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Kremlin spokesman apologizes for electioneering statement in Putin’s favor

Earlier on Friday the Central Election Commission chief warned Dmitry Peskov it was impermissible to make any statements that might look like electioneering

MOSCOW, February 2. /TASS/. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov has presented apologies after being warned by the Central Election Commission for an electioneering statement in Vladimir Putin’s favor and promised to be more cautious throughout the election campaign and to avoid anything of the kind in the future.

"I present my apologies for the statements that might have been interpreted as electioneering," he told the media. "Naturally, from this moment on, for the period [of the election campaign] I will be more cautious so as not to create pretexts for such warnings."

Peskov added that the affair by no means concerned the coverage of Putin’s activities as Russia’s incumbent president.

He declared he had taken the CEC’s warning into account and acknowledged that during the election period priority should be attached not to his own opinion of what he was saying, but the opinion of the CEC, "which is the top body responsible for arranging the presidential election."

Never again

Earlier on Friday CEC chief Ella Pamfilova warned Peskov it was impermissible to make any statements that might look like electioneering. She stated that on January 29 a number of mass media quoted Peskov’s remark about Putin that bore "clear traces of campaigning."

"On behalf of the CEC I’m making a warning addressed to the presidential spokesman any such statements in the future will be impermissible," Pamfilova said at a meeting of the CEC on Friday. She avoided disclosing which particular phrase she was referring to, but in all likelihood it must have been Peskov’s remark dropped at a news briefing on January 29, when he expressed his personal opinion of the president’s popularity.

As she talked to journalists later, Pamfilova explained that she had confined herself to a verbal warning to Peskov and that no sanctions against the presidential spokesman would follow.

"It will be a one-time warning. Certainly, he will not do that again," she said.

Pamfilova recalled that under Russian legislation those not registered as candidates and holding senior official or civil service positions were prohibited from using the advantages of their status during the election campaign for campaigning for this or that candidate, including "electioneering while performing official duties."

"The term ‘electioneering’ applies, among other things, to any expression of preferences in favor of this or that candidate, as well as activities that promote a favorable or unfavorable attitude of voters to candidates," Pamfilova said.

She called upon the mass media outlets and "officials cooperating with them" to "keep in mind the restrictions established by the law throughout the election period," and asked all officials to refrain from election statements while performing official duties.