On Tuesday, Moscow City Elections Commission announced the concept of election debates between Moscow mayor candidates. One-to-one debates, in which acting Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin could have met with oppositionist Alexei Navalny, will not be held, as six candidates will be invited for simultaneous debates on TV and radio. Sources close to Sobyanin stated that the latter did not decide to participate in the debates yet. The majority of his rivals are discontent that the debates will be shown not on the air, but on tape delay. However, Moscow media don’t plan to change their decision.
All six candidates will participate simultaneously in the debates. 12 debates will be held by three programs on each of two Moscow TV channels and two radio stations, the Kommersant daily reported. Verbal duels will start on August 12 and end on September 6, program director of the united editor’s office of Moscow Media Yuri Zhiganov said.
It was a surprise for the candidates that the programs will be broadcast not on the air, but on tape delay. “We do not have technical capacities, we have a tight schedule, there’s only one TV studio for two TV channels,” Zhiganov explained.
Head of Alexei Navalny’s election staff Leonid Volkov told the Kommersant daily that “it is not even ridiculous”, if the TV channel Moscow 24 cannot provide for the air, as the TV channel receives 2.8 billion rubles from the budget. “It is possible to edit a record and the mood will be different,” he noted, naming the discussion between six candidates “quite reasonable.”
Candidate from A Just Russia Party Nikolai Levichev is also concerned over possible program editing, “If there is an opportunity to cut something, the most interesting places are always cut out, only moments, when you scratched your ear or paused are left.”
Candidate and leader of Yabloko Party Sergei Mitrokhin voiced his protest to TV channels, which had decided to broadcast the election TV debates in tape delay, the Izvestia daily reported.
“In 2009 at the elections in the Moscow City Duma and in 2011 at the elections in the State Duma the debates were held on the same TV channels live, and then for some reasons the capacities of TV studios allowed holding them in this format,” the newspaper quoted Mitrokhin as saying.
Vedomosti notes that Sergei Sobyanin minimizes his personal presence at the elections, as he will not participate in debates and his agents and canvassers will be speaking with the Muscovites. This is a strategy of “an unnoticeable election campaign,” political expert Yevgeny Minchenko believes. Sobyanin’s election program is developed with due account of his personal features. The expert explains that Sobyanin is not a charismatic leader like former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, he is a technocratic leader.
As a result the concept of “an unnoticeable election campaign” has emerged. The most important thing is not to irritate the Muscovites, and then they will vote for a status quo solution, but not for marginal candidates.