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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 15:00 GMT
Russian media 'not pro-Putin'
BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC correspondent in Moscow

Russian election officials have rejected complaints of media bias made by opponents of President Vladimir Putin.

A number of the candidates in next month's presidential election had complained that Mr Putin was receiving far more coverage from the national networks than they were.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Putin dominates the news
But the central election commission has ruled against them, an indication that candidate Putin will continue to dominate the airwaves right up until the election.

You have to keep reminding yourself that there are more than seven candidates in Russia's presidential election.

It is so easy to forget, since only one of them is grabbing the headlines on Russian TV.

Mr Putin gets more coverage than all of his opponents put together.

This week Mr Putin dominated news bulletins with his trip out to sea.

Dressed as a naval officer, Russia's president played the superhero, clambering aboard a nuclear submarine, watching rockets blasting into space and inspecting the troops.

The next day Mr Putin was seen addressing veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, all of this aimed at cementing his image as a tough leader.

Last week, state television went as far as dropping a news bulletin to make room for live coverage of President Putin's election rally.

None of the other candidates have been able to broadcast their campaign events live.

That incident prompted the official complaint by two of Mr Putin's opponents, Irina Khakamada and Nikolai Kharitonov.

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