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Thursday, 9 March, 2000, 14:45 GMT
Russia's election rules
Russian voters
Voters go to the polls on 26 March
Before leaving office on 31 December 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a law , "On the election of the president of the Russian Federation" which replaced a previous law of 17 May 1995 by which Yeltsin was himself elected in 1996.

The following are the main points of the new law:




General provisions

  • When a president ceases to hold office before his term expires the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, schedules the election for the last Sunday before the expiry of three months since the outgoing president stood down.

  • Voting is direct, free, voluntary and secret for all citizens aged 18 and over, including Russian citizens resident abroad, but excepting those judged incapable by a court or serving prison sentences.

  • Each presidential candidate must be a citizen of the Russian Federation no younger than 35, who has lived permanently in the Russian Federation for no less than 10 years.

  • If all but one candidate has withdrawn from the election by polling day the CEC will call off the election and schedule another within 90 days.

    Campaigning and funding

  • Candidates may campaign by means of leaflets, posters, meetings, canvassing or other means not specifically prohibited by law.

  • Apart from the free air time granted at the discretion of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), any radio, TV or press campaigning must be paid for from recognised campaign funds.

  • Campaigning by TV and radio should start 22 days before polling day, and campaigning in the print media 30 days before.

  • Foreign citizens and organisations, stateless persons and international organisations may not be involved in the campaigning, and may not contribute to candidates' funds.

  • Opinion polls and election forecasts may be published in the media, but not on polling day or for the three days before. The ban on polls and forecasts on polling day and just before also applies to the internet.

  • Campaigning is to end at midnight 24 hours before polling day, but election posters and material may remain on display during polling day.

  • Each candidate can spend a maximum of R26m ($0.9m) in the first round and R34m ($1.19m) in the second round, including personal funds, funds allocated by electoral blocs and funds volunteered by private citizens and companies.

    Irregularities

  • Complaints about the conduct of the elections will be examined by the CEC, or the Supreme Court in serious cases.

  • The CEC may also warn a candidate via the media of any irregularities during the campaign, or disqualify the candidate or overturn the result of the election, whether or not a warning has been given.

    Registering voters

  • Electoral wards are set up by local authorities at least 30 days before polling day, with a maximum of 3,000 registered voters per ward.

  • Military personnel usually vote in the wards in which their units are located. Units located in inaccessible areas may have voting wards of their own.

  • Consular departments are responsible for setting up polling stations abroad.

  • Voters may only be registered to vote in one ward, but may in cases of temporary residence or absence from the list be registered to vote at the last minute when they identify themselves.

  • The ward commissions must have the final lists of voters ready for public viewing 20 days before the election day.

    The vote

  • Polling stations are to display papers containing information about the candidates. Any conviction or pending prosecution will also be listed as will any second citizenship.

  • Polling is to be monitored by local electoral commission officials and observers.

  • The ballot papers will contain names of candidates in alphabetical order followed by brief details about each.

  • Each name has a blank space beside it for the voters to tick if they wish to vote for that candidate. There is another blank space at the bottom of the ballot papers for those wishing to vote against all.

  • Ten days are allowed for counting votes from the close of polling.

    After polling

  • If no candidate succeeds in gaining more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, then the two candidates who polled the most votes will go into a second round.

  • Under the constitution any second round must be held three weeks from the first poll, thus 16th April has been set as the date for the second round.

  • Normally a president-elect takes office exactly four years after his predecessor. In the case of an early election, as now, he takes office 30 days after the publication of the official results.

    Source: BBC Monitoring Caversham 4 Mar 00

    BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.
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