Page last updated at 04:27 GMT, Friday, 29 February 2008

Russia official admits media bias

Dmitry Medvedev attends a press event in Krasnoyarsk, 15 February
Russian media have followed Mr Medvedev assiduously

The head of Russia's electoral commission has admitted media coverage for Sunday's presidential election has been unequal.

Vladimir Churov told the BBC not all candidates had enjoyed equal access to the media, but he still believed the coverage had been fair.

Critics say TV channels have given too much time to Vladimir Putin's chosen successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

He is expected to win by a wide margin when Russians vote on Sunday.

Mr Putin himself is expected to address the nation on Friday to bid farewell to the public as president after eight years, Russian media say.

'Fair but not equal'

Mr Churov characterised coverage of the campaign as "fair but not equal".

"That's a problem not only for our country but I can agree that not all candidates have an equal number of news items," he said.

However, the election chief argued it was legitimate for news programmes to focus on the activities of Mr Medvedev in his current capacity as first deputy prime minister.

Vladimir Churov added that he had no regrets that the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Europe's main election monitoring body, had decided not to send an observer mission.

He said that the world would form its own opinion on the legitimacy of Sunday's election.

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