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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11388 2006-10-11 13:05 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #1388/01 2841305
R 111305Z OCT 06

E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: 05 MOSCOW 09169 
1. (U) This message reviews the electoral procedures in place 
for participating in the 2007 elections to the Duma.  There 
have been no amendments to the electoral law since the Duma 
eliminated the "against all candidates" ballot option before 
the summer break. In order to be elected a Duma Deputy, one 
needs to be a member of a political party properly registered 
as such with the Federal Registration Service (FRS).  Once 
the election is called by the President, the process moves to 
the jurisdiction of the Central Election Commission (CEC). 
Political parties may then nominate candidates for their 
lists and get certified by the CEC for inclusion on the 
ballot. Certification may be obtained by either having 
current representation in the Duma, obtaining 200,000 
signatures pursuant to electoral law requirements, or 
depositing a 60 million ruble deposit.  After the CEC has 
certified the candidate list, a special bank account must be 
opened from which all monies for campaigning must be taken 
and accounted for.  Free access to state television is 
allocated equally among all certified parties, but, in 
conjunction with print, radio, and commercial television, can 
only be used in the 30-day period prior to the election, 
excluding the day before and the day of the election.  The 
fate of electronic balloting is under discussion. End summary. 
2. (U)  The current session of the State Duma is the last in 
which changes made to the electoral law would have an effect 
on the 2007 Duma elections.  Although election law amendments 
were introduced by United Russia (YR) and passed a first Duma 
reading in July, they seem to have gotten "stuck in 
committee," and members of the Central Election Commission 
(CEC) doubt they will be adopted before the end of this 
session. If passed, those amendments would reintroduce early 
voting, allow for the "de-registration" of candidates found 
to have minor inaccuracies in registration documents, and 
limit the participation of those with convictions for 
extremist activity.  The Head of the CEC, Aleksandr 
Veshnyakov, passionately opposed the amendments when they 
were introduced, arguing that they "discredit the democratic 
process."  Similarly, talk of another YR-sponsored amendment, 
which would further restrict competition by requiring local 
deputies running for "higher-level" parliaments to relinquish 
their posts prior to declaring themselves, seems ultimately 
not to have been introduced.  Thus, the only new development 
since the sweeping changes of 2005 (reftel) has been the 
elimination of the option to vote "against all candidates," a 
move attributed by some to its increasing popularity among 
the Russian electorate.  (Note:  in the October 8 regional 
elections, "against all" appeared in five regions and 
garnered between 4 and 6 percent of the vote.) 
3. (U) The process of becoming a Duma Deputy is 
jurisdictionally divided between the FRS, which is part of 
the Ministry of Justice, and the CEC, which is a governmental 
body consisting of 15 members who hold four-year terms.  The 
Duma, the Federation Council, and the President each appoint 
five members to the CEC. 
4. (U) The FRS is entrusted with registering political 
parties, pursuant to the law "On Political Parties".  In 
order to register as a political party, an entity must have 
at least 50,000 members.  This membership must be distributed 
among at least 45 of Russia's 89 regions, with at least 100 
members in any given region, although this number rises to at 
least 500 as of January 1, 2007.  The law requires that the 
FRS publish the list of registered parties annually on 
January 1, along with their consolidated financial accounts. 
While many commentators in the media have construed this to 
mean that such registration must take place by December 31, 
2006, for inclusion in the 2007 Duma election, Maya Grishina 
of the CEC legal department disagreed.  According to her, 
potential parties actually have longer, possibly until March 
or even April 2007.  There is no specific date set out in the 
law.  The list that the CEC uses is the one given it by the 
FRS after the election is called, which may have deletions or 
additions not reflected in the one published annually. 
MOSCOW 00011388  002 OF 002 
5. (U) The President is required to call an election not more 
than 110 days and not less than 90 days before it is held. 
If the President does not do so, then the CEC must call the 
election within seven days of the expiration of the 
President's time limit.  After an election is called, the FRS 
has three days in which to transmit the list of registered 
parties, which describes the entire universe of potential 
party participants.  From that point, the CEC has 
jurisdiction over the process. 
6. (U) There are three ways for parties to be included o
n the 
-- win seats in the 2003 Duma elections; 
-- gather 200,000 signatures (not more then 10,000 of which 
may be from residents in any one region); 
-- pay a deposit of 60 million rubles. 
The CEC plays a role only if a party elects to pursue its 
place on the ballot through collecting signatures. It is 
also, according to Grishina, the most realistic option for 
potential parties to get on the ballot. The deposit is held 
in a special CEC account. It must be deposited not more then 
75 days and not less than 45 days before the election and the 
funds may not be used for campaign expenses.  The deposit is 
forfeited to the state if the party does not win at least 4% 
of the vote.  Otherwise, it is returned to the party within 
five days after the results are officially published.  Once 
included on the ballot, only the Constitutional Court has the 
power to remove a party. Removal may be pursued by the CEC or 
by a private party. 
7. (U) After official publication of the decision to hold an 
election, parties may nominate their candidates.  Campaigning 
may begin after the party is certified by the CEC.  Until 30 
days before the election, however, parties may not use radio, 
television, or print media.  Free access to the television 
media is rigidly apportioned.  Each party on the ballot is 
allocated one hour on each of the six state channels for a 
total of six hours, with no requirements for reimbursement of 
the broadcast cost, no matter what the performance of the 
party on election day.  Parties are free to purchase 
additional advertising time.  All campaigning is forbidden 
the day before and the day of the election. 
8. (U) Parties are required to open special bank accounts at 
the government-owned SberBank within three days after 
receiving certification from the CEC.  These accounts neither 
require fees, not produce interest.  Finances are limited to 
400 million rubles, plus additional sums calibrated to 
population sizes in the various regions.  Grishina told us 
that there was a desire to see these limits raised.  All 
campaign financial transactions are audited by the CEC. 
Political parties may not receive contributions from foreign 
governments, organizations, citizens, Russian governmental or 
international entities, or charitable or religious 
9. (U) The CEC is very eager to implement electronic 
balloting and has in fact, under the auspices of the Federal 
Center on Information Technologies, already developed a 
system: "Vybory".  To date, the system has been used almost 
exclusively as a mechanism to count electronically paper 
ballots.  As such, it was used experimentally in the 2003 
Duma elections and the 2004 presidential contest.  It was 
also used in one-third of all polling stations in the Moscow 
City Duma election of December 2005 with mixed public 
reaction.  Since it took 24 hours for the results to be 
published, accusations of tampering with the software, and 
hence the results, surfaced. 
10. (U) The regional Novgorod election held on October 8 used 
paperless electronic balloting in five polling stations. 
For reasons not clear to the Embassy, the Regional Election 
Commission decided not to use those results in two of them, 
but rather count the votes by hand.  The experiment was 
nonetheless deemed a success by Nikolai Konkin, a 
representative of the CEC, who proclaimed the CEC's readiness 
to continue developing the system. Olga Balashova, Head of 
the CEC's International Cooperation Division, was more 
noncommittal about the future use of paperless electronic 
balloting saying that its fate would be determined by a 
political decision". 


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