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MOSCOW, August 10 (Itar-Tass) - Acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who is running for a new term, has decided against participating in televised and radio election debates.
“We can answer all questions today and say that mayoral candidate Sergei Sobyanin will not participate in the debates and will focus on his election activities and direct communication with Muscovites and voters,” Lyudmila Shvetsova, head of Sobyanin’s election headquarters, said on Saturday, August 10.
When making the decision Sobyanin sought advice from his election campaign staff, she added. “Sergei Semyonovich [Sobyanin] asked of our opinion and we expressed it, stating all pros and cons. We said he should not participate in the debates. He accepted our point of view and agreed with it,” Shvetsova said.
She noted that Sobyanin “knows the city inside out,” “he can answer any question from Muscovites” and as incumbent mayor he experiences no lack of communication with them.
Shvetsova said, however, that other mayoral candidates should be given an opportunity to participate in the debates. “The other candidates should be given such a possibility so that they could make themselves clearer to Muscovites,” she said. “Debates are a possibility not a duty. Each candidate has a right to make his own decision as to how to use this possibility.”
She said opposition candidate Alexei Navaly, who is widely known as a fighter against corruption, will participate in the debates on the Moscow-24 television channel regardless of whether other candidates, including Sobyanin, do likewise or not, the oppositionist’s election campaign chief manager Leonid Volkov told ITAR-TASS.
Opposition Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin believes that “it is better to hold live debates of course and I do hope that’s what we will have” and said he would “participate in them irrespective of their format and timing, just as I did before.”
Yuri Zhiganov, programming director of the company Moscow Media, which incorporates eight city media outlets, said “we expect all candidates to participate in the debates simultaneously.”
The first live one-hour debate is scheduled to take place on the Moscow-24 television channel on August 12.
Early mayoral election will be held in Moscow on September 8 and will be the first one in ten years.
In early June, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on early termination of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s tour of duty.
Sobyanin had earlier tendered resignation, asking the president to accept it.
Putin accepted his resignation and instructed him to remain as acting mayor of Moscow until the mayoral election, the date of which will be set by the Moscow City Duma.
At a meeting with Putin on June 5, Sobyanin said he had discussed the issue of holding an early mayoral election in Moscow with the Moscow City Duma deputies and representatives of the local authorities at a meeting of the Public Council.
“This is the first time in the last ten years that it is now legally possible to hold such an election, and after consultations, I decided that it would be the right thing to hold this election this year,” the mayor said.
Putin noted that Sobyanian had been working successfully and asked him to continue this work. “I will sign today an executive order naming you as acting mayor until the election, and I ask you to ensure that all of the city’s services continue working without problem,” he said.
“No matter what domestic political events are going on, in a huge city like Moscow, maintaining social and public order is essential. I hope you will manage. We have been working together for a long time now and I know your abilities,” Putin said.
He asked Sobyanin if he was going to run in the election.
“Yes, Mr President,” the mayor replied. “We have a number of big programmes underway in Moscow and it would not be right to abandon them midway. I therefore think I should run in the election.”
Putin wished him success.