Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More



Cablegate: Election Law Requirements for Prospective Duma

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.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.


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 on 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".

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.