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Russian presidential candidates begin three-week debate marathon

Five federal state-run television channels and three radio stations allocate free airtime for election campaigning

MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. The pre-election debate period kicks off on Monday in Russia three weeks before the presidential election. The candidates will have to polemize daily on TV channels and radio stations to attract voters and present their election programs briefly during a limited period of time.

Five federal state-run television channels allocate free airtime for election campaigning - Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24, Channel 1, TV Center, Public Television of Russia - along with three radio stations, which are part of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), namely, Radio Rossii, Mayak and Vesti FM. In conformity with the law, one-third of the airtime is allocated to the political parties that nominated their candidates, while the remaining time is divided into two parts. Half of that time is allocated for the candidates’ ads, and another half - for debates.

According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, it is up to TV channels to determine the format of the electioneering events - discussions, round tables or debates. During the current campaign, the TV channels decided that all candidates would take part in the debates simultaneously.

Since incumbent head of State Vladimir Putin who is running for another presidential term as an independent candidate refused to take part in the debates, viewers will be able to watch the debates between seven candidates: Sergey Baburin (the All-Russia National Union party), Pavel Grudinin (nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation), Vladimir Zhirinovsky from Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), Ksenia Sobchak (the Civil Initiative party), Maxim Suraikin (the Communists of Russia), Boris Titov (the Party of Growth) and Grigory Yavlinsky (the Yabloko party).

The media electioneering stage that began on February 17 will end overnight to March 17, the day of silence. The Russian presidential election will be held on March 18.