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21.10.2020, . 06:03

Mass Media Responsibilities In Time Of Elections

By Dr. Alexander Postnikov

1. Which legislative acts establish additional responsibilities of mass media during elections?

During elections of various tiers (such as federal, regional, or local) the media are charged with a whole range of additional responsibilities, which represent a key condition of holding open, free and democratic elections.

General duties of mass media that apply to all elections held in the Russian Federation are laid down in the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» dated September 19, 1997, as presently in effect with amendments and supplements introduced by Federal Law of March 30, 1997. The said Federal Law prevails over other electoral laws. Attached are the relevant provisions of the law.

Mass media's duties with regard to federal elections are detailed in the Federal Law «On Election of Deputies to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation» dated April 28, 1995, and the Federal Law «On Election of the President of the Russian Federation» dated May 17, 1995. Importantly, the above laws had been passed before the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum», and their operation is subject to legislative novels contained in the latter Federal Law.

Currently, the State Duma is preparing a new version of the Federal Law «On Election of Deputies to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation» for its second reading.

Specific duties of mass media during elections in any Subject of the Russian Federation (such as elections of the chief executive of a Subject of the Russian Federation, deputies of legislative bodies, heads of municipalities, other elected officials of local self-governments, and deputies of representative bodies of local self-government) are established by laws of Subjects of the Russian Federation adopted pursuant to the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum».

2. Which mass media are charged with most additional election-related duties?

The mass media have a range of duties that equally apply to all the media in time of elections: in particular, the duty to prevent misuse of press freedom, to comply with the prescribed timing of election campaign, to duly publish opinion poll findings, etc.

At the same time, the legislation sets apart a special class of mass media, which are charged with the heaviest load of responsibilities as regards election campaigns. The Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» establishes that those include any TV and/or radio broadcasters, and any newspapers and periodicals having at least one of the following features:

    the entity or publication is founded (co-founded) by any government or municipal body, organization, or institution;

    one year before the election is called, at least 15 percent of the entity's or publication's own budget is financed with funds allocated by federal government authorities, government authorities of any Subjects of the Russian Federation, or local self-government bodies.

In particular, the said entities and publications (for convenience, we will refer to them as the regulated media) are obliged to treat any registered candidates, electoral associations, and electoral blocs equally as regards terms and conditions of conducting election campaign, providing free airtime or printing space, publishing election commissions' resolutions, and any information on financial transactions performed via special accounts operated by campaign funds of candidates, electoral associations, and electoral blocs.

3. How may the media participate in election campaign?

Election campaign shall mean the activities of citizens of the Russian Federation, candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, and public associations, which is aimed at encouraging voters to participate in the election and to vote for or against certain candidates (lists of candidates).

The mass media does not constitute an independent entity conducting election campaign. However, any entities whose right to do so is recognized by law may conduct such campaign through the media.

One ought to note that election commission members having a full vote, government authorities, bodies of local self-government, charitable organizations, religious associations, persons holding state and municipal offices, government and municipal employees, as well as servicemen are restricted from participation in election campaign when performing their official or service duties or employing any advantages of their office or position. The media are obliged to assure that this prohibition is duly observed.

4. Timing of election campaign in the media.

Conduct of election campaign in the media should fit the same deadlines as those fixed for campaigning if favor of appropriate candidates or lists of candidates proposed by electoral associations or electoral blocs. Election campaign starts from the day when any candidate (list of candidates) is registered, and stops at midnight, 24 hours prior to voting day.

In case of a repeat vote, election campaign resumes from the day when any decision prescribing a repeat vote is officially published and stops at midnight, 24 hours prior to the repeat vote day.

The law expressly provides for time limits as regards election campaign by registered candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs via any channels of regulated electronic media. As a rule, such campaign starts after free airtime is apportioned among the candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs.

5. What procedure is established for interaction between the mass media and the election commissions?

The regulated mass media must allow placement of election commissions' printed information, and must provide election commissions with free airtime in order to advise the voters on the timing and procedure of electoral actions, the progress of election campaign, and the candidates. Any expenses these media incur in such case should be covered from their regular budgetary funds. Other media are obliged to provide the election commissions with necessary information and materials, and to reply to their requests within any time limits prescribed by law.

Besides, any acts and resolutions of election commissions adopted within the limits of their jurisdiction are binding on the mass media.

6.1. Procedure for provision of free airtime by the electronic media.

The regulated electronic media are obliged to provide free airtime to registered candidates, electoral associations, and electoral blocs. Provision of free airtime depends of the size of the area covered by the respective medium's TV or radio broadcasts.

The Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» establishes that, in case of elections of the President of the Russian Federation or deputies of the State Duma, free airtime provided by each national TV network should total at least one hour daily on business days. In the same elections, respective regional organizations must allocate at least 30 minutes of free airtime of business days, or at least one fourth of total broadcasting time, if their time on the air totals less than two hours.

Under the law, free airtime should be provided in prime time.

A candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc may independently determine the form and nature of their media campaign, subject to certain exceptions established by law. Thus, the Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» provides that at least one third of total free airtime allowance shall be provided to candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs for holding joint discussions, round table shows, or similar campaign events.

As a rule, free airtime is distributed by a draw of lots held by election commissions in the presence of the candidates, representatives of electoral associations or electoral blocs, and representatives of the respective media organizations. Airtime is apportioned among the candidates, electoral associations or electoral blocs equally, i. e., none of them enjoys any advantage in access to airtime on better terms and conditions (as regards airtime duration, time slot, etc.).

6.2. Procedure for provision of free printing space by publications

The editors of regulated periodicals [this term also includes newspapers] circulated in the territory that holds the election are obliged to provide printing space for publication of campaign materials submitted by candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs. As a rule, periodicals are understood to include any printed media published at least once a week. The above obligation does not apply to any periodicals established by government authorities and bodies of local self-government with the sole purpose of publishing official communications and materials, regulations and other acts. Specialized publications (for children, on technology, science, etc.) may also be exempted from the obligation to publish printed campaign materials for free, provided they take no part whatsoever in the election campaign.

The minimum total of printing space that a periodical is obliged to provide for free is established by the law governing elections to the respective government authority or any body of local self-government.

Free printing space is provided to candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs after such space is apportioned, normally in a draw of lots organized by the respective election commission. All candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs participate in this distribution equally.

In case of free publication of campaign materials, the item so published should contain an express reference to the effect that its publication is free, plus an indication as to which candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc has been so allowed to publish the campaign materials. The candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc independently determines the form of such publication.

7.1. Procedure for free airtime provision by electronic media.

The procedure for free airtime provision somewhat differs between the regulated and other electronic media. The regulated electronic media broadcasting in the election territory must reserve pay airtime for election campaign conducted by candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs. Such reserved airtime total may not fall below the free airtime total.

Paid airtime should be provided as requested by candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs. A contract for provision of pay airtime is made between the regulated medium and respective candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc. In such case, the payment rate may not be determined separately for each candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc. There should be a single rate across all candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs. The rate should be established in advance and published on or before the day when nomination of candidates (lists of candidates) starts. In case of election pursuant to the majoritarian system, when a constituency map has to be approved, nomination of candidates would normally start on the day when such constituency maps are approved; otherwise, nomination of candidates starts on the day when the election is called. Each candidate has the right to an equal share of paid airtime. The candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc independently determine the way of utilizing their paid airtime.

Any broadcasters other than the regulated media may provide airtime to candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs under contract. In this case, such entities must assure an equal airtime charge, as well as equal terms and conditions of availability (in terms of slot timing and other key parameters) across all candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs.

In all cases, regardless of the broadcaster's nature, the airtime shall be paid for only via the campaign funds of respective candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs, and such payment must be made in full before the airtime is provided to them. Actual airing time of the pay slot is normally determined in a draw of lots performed by the broadcaster in question.

7.2. Procedure for paid provision of printing space by publications

The regulated periodicals, as defined in section 6.2 above, are obliged to provide paid printing space for publication of any materials submitted by candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs. The minimum amount of such space is established by the law governing elections to the respective government authority or any body of local self-government.

Unregulated periodicals may provide printing space to candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs under a contract. Such publications must assure equal pay rates for the printing space and equal terms and conditions of providing such space (in terms of placement on a page and other key parameters) across all candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs. The law establishes only one exception: the requirement of providing printing space on equal terms does not apply to any editors of periodicals, if the periodical in question is founded by any registered candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc, or by any electoral association(s) comprising an electoral bloc.

In all cases, regardless of the publication's nature, the printing space must be paid for only via the campaign funds of respective candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs, and such payment must be made in full before the printing space is provided to them. Normally, such printing space is apportioned among the candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs in a draw of lots arranged by the respective media organization.

Any material so published in a periodical and paid for from the campaign funds of any candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc should contain an indication as to which candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc has drawn on its campaign funds to pay for the publication. The candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc independently determines the way of utilizing such printing space.

8. Requirements as to content of any information published (broadcast) by the media during election time.

The election legislation establishes a number of special requirements as regards the content of any information published or broadcast by the mass media in the time of elections.

Neutrality. The Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» provides that the newscasts (news features) of broadcasting entities should not give preference to any candidate, electoral association, or electoral bloc, including any preference in terms of timing the coverage of their campaign activities, effectively requiring that the electronic media remain neutral throughout the election campaign, and restricting them from engaging in election propaganda of their own.

The existing Federal Law «On Election of Deputies to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation» stipulates that any newscasts by TV and radio should include any information on election campaigns of any candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs only as a separate news section, normally in the beginning of the said programs and without comment.

Opinion Polls. The law establishes some special rules for mass media publication of opinion poll findings, election result forecasts, and other election-related research in the time of elections. When publishing any election-related opinion poll findings, the media must identify the polling organization, the time of poll, the number of those polled (sample size), the method of information gathering, the exact wording of the question, and the statistical estimate of potential error. Within three days to the voting day and on the voting day, no mass media may publish any opinion poll findings, election result forecasts, or other election-related research.

Payment. The Federal Law «On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum» provides that in time of elections, any commercial or other activities of candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, candidates' agents and authorized representatives, as well as any entities where such persons or organizations are founders, proprietors and/or members of managing bodies, may only be advertised pursuant to the procedure prescribed for election campaigns of any candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, while the respective expenses should be paid from the campaign funds established thereby.

Right of Rebuttal. When participating in election campaigns, the regulated media may not allow disclosure (publication) of any information capable of affecting honor, dignity, or business reputation of any candidates, unless the medium in question allows such candidate to issue (publish) a rebuttal or any other clarification as required to protect his or her honor, dignity, or business reputation before the time allocated for election campaign expires.

9. Mass media's duty to publish information on transactions involving campaign funds.

The election commission that has registered any candidate (list of candidates) should, from time to time, present the mass media with data on receipt and expenditure of money by the campaign funds of any candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs, in order to have such information published. The regulated media are obliged to publish the said information within three days of receipt at the expense of their regular funding. Final financial reports of candidates, electoral associations, or electoral blocs are also forwarded to the media for publication.

10. Responsibilities of the media personnel participating in election campaigns.

Any registered candidates working in mass media are relieved of their official duties for as long as they run in the elections. Within three days of their registration, they should provide the election commission with a notarized copy of an appropriate order or directive temporarily relieving them of their official duties. In addition, in their own campaign they may not take any advantage of their office or position. In particular, taking advantage of office or position is understood as priority access to regulated media in order to collect signatures or to conduct election campaign.

Journalists, other creative workers, editorial officials of mass media, as well as officials and creative workers of government broadcasting organizations are restricted from covering the election campaign in the media if the said persons are candidates or agents of any candidates.

In case any registered candidate violates the above rules, the election commission may rescind its decision to register the candidate in question.

On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights and the Right of Citizens of the Russian Federation to Participate in a Referendum (as Amended 30.03.99) Reference Number: 55-FZ

Chapter VII. Campaigning During Elections And Referenda

Article 37. The Right to Election Campaigning

1. The state shall guarantee free election campaigning to citizens of the Russian Federation, public associations, political parties during elections and referenda, in compliance with federal constitutional laws, federal laws, laws of Subjects of the Russian Federation.

2. Citizens of the Russian Federation, public associations, political parties shall be entitled to conduct, in legal forms and by legal methods, propaganda encouraging the participation in elections, for or against any registered candidate (for or against a list of candidates), electoral association, electoral bloc as well as for or against a referendum, for or against participation in the referendum, or for or against matters issued at a referendum.

3. An equal access to the mass media shall be guaranteed to registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral bloc.

4. Campaigning during elections and referenda may be conducted through the mass media, by arranging and holding public events (public gatherings, meetings with voters, public debates and discussions, rallies, demonstrations, manifestations), by issuing and dissemination propaganda printed materials and utilizing other forms allowed by law. A registered candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc, initiative group for referendum shall be entitled to determine independently the format and the nature of their election campaigning through the mass media.

5. Voting members of election commissions, referendum commissions, representatives of the state bodies, bodies of local self-governments, charity organizations, religious associations as well as persons holding state offices, state and municipal employees, military servicemen at their business or service hours shall not participate in election campaigning during elections and referenda or using the advantages of their office or service position.

6. When publishing the results of public opinion polls relating to elections or a referendum the mass media shall indicate the organization which conducted the poll, the time of the poll, the number of respondents (sampling), the method of gathering information, the precise formulation of the question, the statistical assessment of a possible error.

As amended 3/30/99.

Article 38. Campaigning Time Terms

1. Election campaigning shall start on the day on which a candidate (list of candidates) is registered and end at zero hours one day prior to the voting day. When a repeat voting is to be held, election campaigning shall be resumed from the day on which a resolution to announce repeat voting is officially published and end at zero hours one day before the day of repeat voting.

2. Terms for election campaigning conducted by registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs on channels of state and municipal TV and (or) radio broadcasting organizations subject to provisions of Clause 1 of Article 39 of this Federal Law shall be set by federal laws, laws of Subjects of Russian Federation.

3. Campaigning at a referendum shall start from the publication day of the act of the relevant body or official setting the referendum and be terminated at 0:00 hours on the day prior to referendum day.

4. Printed propaganda materials previously displayed outside buildings and premises of election commissions, referendum commissions in accordance with a procedure set forth in this Federal Law shall remain in place on the voting day.

5. Within 3 days prior to election day and referendum day, and on election day, referendum day, the publication of results of public polls, forecasts of election and referendum results or other research related thereto in the mass media shall be prohibited.

As amended 3/30/99.

Article 39. General Terms and Conditions of the Access of Candidates, Electoral Associations, Electoral Blocs, Referendum Initiative Groups to Mass Media

1. TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of periodicals (periodicals) which are founded (co-founded) by state or municipal bodies, organizations, institutions and/or which, in the year preceding the day of the official publication of the decision to set the elections, were financed by at least 15 percent of their budget from the funds allocated by the federal bodies of state power, bodies of state power of Subjects of the Russian Federation, bodies of local self-government shall provide equal conditions for registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs to conduct their election propaganda.

2. The TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of periodicals which do not come under the provisions of Clause 1 of this Article may provide air time, space in printed media to registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups on a contractual basis. A registered candidate, an electoral association, electoral bloc shall pay for air time and printing space and TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations shall provide air time on equal terms and conditions, with the full payment to be made before provision of air time and printing space, exclusively through election funds. In cases provided by federal constitutional laws, federal laws, lows of Subjects of the Russian Federation a referendum initiative group shall pay for air time and printed matter through a referendum participation fund.

As amended 3/30/99.

Article 40. Terms and Conditions for Campaigning through Electronic Mass Media

1. Registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups shall be entitled to free air time on the channels of TV and (or) radio broadcasting organizations coming under the provisions of Clause 1 of Article 39 of this Federal law and engaged in TV and radio broadcasting in the territory wherein elections, a referendum is to be held. The said air time shall be provided during the prime periods when TV and radio programs are viewed and listened to by the greatest number of persons. The total free air time provided by each Russian national TV and (or) radio broadcasting organization for campaigning in elections to federal bodies of state power shall be not less than one hour on working days. The total free air time provided by each regional TV and (or) radio broadcasting organization for election campaigning in elections to federal bodies of state power and in elections to bodies of state power of a Subject of the Russian Federation shall be not less than 30 minutes on working days and, if the total broadcasting time of the TV and (or) radio broadcasting organization is less than two hours, no less than one-fourth of the total broadcasting time. The said free air time shall be distributed between registered candidates and electoral associations, electoral blocs on an equal footing.

2. Not less than one-third of the total free air time shall be given to candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs for joint discussions, roundtables and similar propaganda events. This part of free air time shall be accessible to all registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs on an equal footing.

3. TV and (or) radio broadcasting organizations coming under the provisions of Clause 1 of Article 39 of this Federal Law in regard of the level of elections shall reserve paid air time for election campaigning of candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs. This air time shall be made available for a charge on a contractual basis to candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs on their request. The charge shall be the same for all candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs and announced no later than the day on which nomination of candidates (lists of candidates) begins or no later than ten days after announcement of the voting day in a referendum. Each candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc shall be entitled to a part of the total reserved air time given by division of this time by the total number of registered candidates (electoral associations, electoral blocs). The total reserved air time shall not be less than the total free air time provided in accordance with Clause 1 of this Article.

4. The provision of air time to registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, public associations, referendum initiative groups on the channels of the state TV and (or) radio broadcasting organizations coming under the provisions of Clause 1 of Article 39 of this Federal Law shall be regulated by federal constitutional laws, federal laws, laws of Subjects of the Russian Federation.

5. Expenses incurred by state municipal TV and (or) radio broadcasting organizations in connection with the free allocation of air time to registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, initiative groups for referendum, election commissions, referendum commissions shall be covered by current funding from the budget.

6. In the news casts of TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations no preference shall be given to any candidate, registered candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc, specifically with regard to the time devoted to highlighting their propaganda activities.

As amended 3/30/99.

Article 41. Terms and Conditions for Campaigning through Printed Mass Media

1. Editorial offices of a periodical coming under the provisions of Clause 1 of Article 39 of this Federal Law and distributed in the territories wherein elections, referenda are to be held, with the exception of editorial offices of a periodical (periodicals) founded by bodies of state power and bodies of local self-government exclusively for publication of official reports and materials, normative and other acts shall provide spaces for materials submitted by candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups. The total minimum space of this kind and the ratio between its parts provided by periodical editorial offices free of charge at the expense of their current budget financing and on a paid basis shall be established by federal constitutional laws, federal laws, laws of Subjects of Russian Federation. Specialized publications (children's, technical, scientific and others) may refuse to publish any propaganda materials whatsoever provided they completely abstain from any participation in the election campaign, preparation and holding of referenda.

2. The requirement that printing space should be provided free and/or on equal terms and conditions shall not apply to editorial offices of periodicals if the editorial office of a periodical and/or the periodical is founded by a registered candidate (candidates), an electoral association, electoral bloc, a referendum initiative group or an electoral association (electoral associations) comprised in an electoral bloc and does not fall under Clause 1 Article 39 of this Federal Law.

3. All materials published in periodicals and paid for from the electoral fund of a candidate, registered candidate, an electoral association, electoral bloc shall indicate the candidate, registered candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc that paid for the publication of this material from their electoral fund. If the material was published free of charge in accordance with the provisions of Clause 1 of this Article and/or other provisions concerning free provision of printing space for the publication of materials of registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, the material shall indicate that it was published free and shall mention the registered candidate, the electoral association, electoral bloc that were given the opportunity to publish the given material.

As amended 3/30/99.

Article 42. Conditions of Election Campaigning Through Public Events

1. The state bodies, bodies of local self-government shall render assistance to registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, initiative groups of voters, initiative groups for referendum in arranging gatherings, meetings with voters, public debates and discussions, rallies, demonstration and manifestations, and to ensure security during such public events. The provision of buildings and facilities included in the state register of valuable objects of cultural heritage of peoples of the Russian Federation shall be prohibited for such purposes.

2. Applications to utilize premises for the purposes of the meetings of candidates their agents, agents of electoral associations, electoral blocs, with voters, gatherings of citizens for discussion of the referendum issues shall be considered by the state bodies, bodies of local self-government not later than 3 days of the submission date. Applications submitted by the organizes of meetings, demonstrations and rallies shall be considered by the bodies of local self-government in compliance with legislation of the Russian Federation.

3. On the basis of a request of election commissions, referendum commissions premises which are suitable for holding mass events and are state- or municipality-owned, owned by state enterprises, institutions and organizations, shall be made available for a time established by an election commission, referendum commission for meetings of candidates, representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs and their agents, referendum initiative groups with voters, referendum participants. If such premises were made available for mass events to one of the candidates, an electoral association, electoral bloc, the owner of the premises shall not refuse to provide the premises to another candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc. In this case, election commissions, referendum commissions shall provide equal conditions for registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, initiative groups of voters, initiative groups for referendum in holding public events.

4. When meetings of candidates, representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs with voters - servicemen are organized outside the military unit, equal conditions shall be provided to all candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs.

Article 43. Conditions for Dissemination of Printed Propaganda Materials

1. Registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, and during a referendum - initiative groups for referendum, public associations shall be entitled to issue printed propaganda materials.

2. All printed propaganda materials shall contain the names and addresses of organizations (the first and last names, patronymics and places of residence of the persons) producing these materials, the name of the organization (the last and the first name and the patronymic of the person) that ordered the given printed materials and information about the number of copies printed and the date of publication.

3. Before their distribution the originals or copies of propaganda materials shall be submitted to the election commission which registered the given candidate (list of candidates), to the referendum commission which registered the referendum initiative group or to a lower election commission in cases provided by a federal law, law of a Subject of the Russian Federation. These materials shall be submitted to the election commission, referendum commission together with the information concerning the location (address, place of residence) of the organizations (individuals) that produced and ordered these materials. Production and distribution of printed propaganda materials without a written consent of the appropriate registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups shall not be allowed.

4. Distribution of printed propaganda materials in violation of the requirements established by Clauses 2 and 3 of this Article shall not be allowed.

5. Propaganda printed materials may be displayed in any premises on any building, structure or other facilities with consent of the owner or tenant of the above structures. Displaying of the above materials at monuments, obelisks and buildings of historical, cultural or architectural value as well as on the premises of election commissions, referendum commissions and voting premises shall be prohibited.

6. The bodies of local self-government upon proposal of the election commission, referendum commission shall allocate special places for displaying printed propaganda materials in the territory of each electoral precinct. Equal conditions shall be provided to registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs for displaying such materials The terms and procedure for arrangement of the above places shall be set forth by federal constitutional laws, federal laws, laws of Subjects of the Russian Federation.

7. The election commission, referendum commission which was informed about distribution of false printed propaganda materials or printed propaganda materials which do not contain the information indicated in Clause 2 of this Article, shall take measures to check such activities and shall be entitled to appeal to the relevant law enforcement and other bodies with a request to check such illegitimate campaigning activities and confiscate illegitimate printed propaganda materials.

As amended 3/30/99.

Article 44. Guarantees of the Rights of Referendum Participants to Timely Acquaintance with the Text of a Draft Law, Draft of a Normative Legal Act Put to a Referendum

Whenever a draft law of a Subject of the Russian Federation or a draft of a normative legal act of a body of local self-government is put to a referendum, not later than 30 days prior to the voting day each voter shall be entitled to receive the text of this draft from a body of local self-government. The responsibility for the production and distribution of this text shall be borne by the referendum initiative group.

Article 45. Misuse of the Right to Election Campaigning

1. Election commissions, referendum commissions shall monitor the adherence to the established procedure for campaigning during elections and referenda.

2. In conducting election campaigning, misuse of freedom of the mass media: propaganda of social, racial, national, religious hatred and enmity, appeal to seize power, to violent change of the constitutional system and disintegration of the state as well as propaganda of war and other forms of misuse of the freedom of the mass media not allowed by federal law shall be prohibited.

3. Candidates, registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups and their authorized representatives and other organizations directly or indirectly involved in election and referendum campaigning shall not bribe voters, referendum participants: they shall not give voters money, gifts and other tangible assets otherwise than for the performance of organizational work (attendance at election and referendum polling stations, collection of signatures and propaganda-related activities) remunerate voters who conducted the said organizational activities subject to the voting returns, sell goods at reduced prices, distribute any goods free with the exception of printed, in particular, illustrative, materials and badges specially prepared for an election campaign, the preparation and holding of a referendum and render services free or at reduced prices. In their campaigning registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups and their authorized representatives or other persons and organizations shall not influence voters, referendum participants with promises of money, securities (including on the basis of voting returns) and other material benefits and provision of services other than on the basis of decisions by the bodies of state power and bodies of local self-government made in compliance with federal laws, laws of Subjects of the Russian Federation and other normative legal acts.

4. Candidates, registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs which nominated or registered lists of candidates and/or individual candidates or are comprised in electoral blocs which nominated such lists of candidates, agents and authorized representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs, agents of registered candidates, members and authorized representatives of referendum initiative groups, organizations which are founded, owned, possessed by the said persons and organizations or have governing bodies wherein the said persons and organizations are members as well as other natural persons and legal entities that have been asked or commissioned to act by the said persons and organizations shall not engage in charity activities In the course of an election campaign or a referendum. The said persons and organizations shall be forbidden to offer material or financial aid or services to voters, referendum participants and organizations located in the territory of the electoral district, the referendum territory. Natural persons and legal entities shall be forbidden to engage in charity activities on behalf or in support of candidates, registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, referendum initiative groups, their authorized representatives and agents.

5. In the course of an election campaign and a referendum the commercial and other activities of candidates, registered candidates, electoral associations, electoral blocs, agents and authorized representatives of electoral associations, electoral blocs, agents of registered candidates, members and authorized representatives of referendum initiative groups, organizations which are founded, owned, possessed by the said persons and organizations or have governing bodies wherein the said persons and organizations are members shall be advertised on the conditions set forth in Clause 2 Article 39 and Clause 3 Article 41 of this Federal Law. Such advertising shall not be allowed on voting days and the preceding day.

6. While participating in election campaigns TV, radio programs on the channels of the TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations indicated in Clause 1 Article 39 of this Federal Law and editorial offices of periodicals indicated in Clause 1 Article 39 of this Federal Law shall not publicize information that may damage the honor, dignity or business reputation of registered candidates if these TV and radio programs and periodicals cannot offer registered candidates a possibility to make public a denial or some other clarification in defense of their honor, dignity or business reputation before expiration of the election propaganda period. The failure to offer registered candidates a possibility to make public, before expiration of the election propaganda period, a denial or some other clarification in defense of their honor, dignity or business reputation in TV, radio programs on the channels of TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations indicated in Clause 1 Article 39 of this Federal Law and in periodicals indicated in Clause 1 Article 39 of this Federal Law which publicized information that may damage the honor, dignity or business reputation of registered candidates may serve as a ground on which these TV and/or radio broadcasting organizations and editorial offices of periodicals and their officials shall be penalized under Russian Federation law.

7. If a registered candidate, an electoral association, electoral bloc violates Clause 2 of this Article, the election commission shall be obliged, and other bodies, organizations and persons indicated in Clause 4 Article 63 of this Federal Law may apply to a court and request annulment of the registration of the candidate (list of candidates). If a registered candidate, an electoral association, electoral bloc, a referendum initiative group violate other rules or election propaganda, propaganda in connection with the issues put to the referendum established by Article 37 - 45 of this Federal Law, the election commission, referendum commission shall issue a warning to the registered candidate, electoral association, electoral bloc, referendum initiative group or shall apply to law enforcement bodies or other bodies and request that they put an end to unlawful propaganda activities; at such time, the election commission may also annul registration of the candidate (list of candidates). The corresponding resolution of the election commission shall be issued to the mass media.

8. Law enforcement bodies shall take measures to put an end to unlawful propaganda activities, prevent production of false and unlawful audiovisual and other propaganda materials and seize them, establish the organizations which produced these materials and their payment sources and shall promptly inform the relevant election commission, referendum commission about the measures taken.

9. If a TV and/or radio broadcasting organization, an editorial office of a periodical violates propaganda rules established by this Federal Law, the federal constitutional law, other federal laws, a law of a Subject of the Russian Federation, the relevant election commission, referendum commission may apply to law enforcement bodies, a court, executive bodies of state power which implement the state policy with regard to the mass media and request that they put an end to unlawful propaganda activities and penalize the TV and/or radio broadcasting organization, the editorial offices of the periodical as provided by Russian Federation law.

As amended 3/30/99.

Translation of this document is courtesy of IFES/Russia







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