MOSCOW, February 6 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian television is opening a season of TV debates on Monday in the framework of the presidential campaign.
Channel One will show the first debate between the leader of the Communist party Gennady Zyuganov and entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov on Monday evening.
A canvassing campaign officially began on Saturday, February 4. Under the existing law free air time and newspaper columns are offered to the presidential candidates on weekdays only. Hence, Monday is the first day when free air time is offered for the debates.
Every candidate is entitled to nine hours of free time on the air at Russian state television and radio companies, said Maya Grishina, a member of the Russian Central Election Commission. Simular to the previous Duma election, free air time is offered to the presidential candidates by Channel One, Rossiya-1, Rossiya-24, TV Center television channels, and Radio Rossiyi, Mayak, Vesti-FM, Golos Rossiyi radio stations.
Twelve newspapers, including Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, Tverskaya 13 and Ekho Planety magazine offered free newspaper columns to the candidates.
Channel One will broadcast the debates held in "one-on-one" format from 6.15 until 6.45 pm Moscow time. Ten debate cycles have been planned altogether.
Rossiya-1 television will be broadcasting the debates from February 27 until March 2, practically until the very “day of silence” when canvassing is prohibited. Rossiya television will hold the debates in the format of the regular “Poyedinok” (Duel) show conducted by the host of the show, Vladimir Solovyov. The debates are scheduled to begin at 10.50 pm or late in the prime time, which is the format that both the TV audiences and the presidential candidates will like, said Deputy Chief of VGTRK holding Dmitry Kiselyov.
The VGTRK holding made an extraordinary decision - to cancel all the other political talk shows on Rossiya-1 television, including “Poyedinok,” “Historical Process” and “Special Correspondent” talk shows. “It is necessary to create a certain ‘sterile environment’ for canvassing so as to rule out a risk of false interpretation,” Kiselyov explained.
Vesti-24 television will be broadcasting the debates from February 9.The debates grouped in five cycles open on February 9 and will be on the air from 6.00 until 7.00 pm.