United Russia Declines To Participate in Televised Debates

The United Russia party will use its allotted airtime to show campaign ads, instead of participating in televised debates. Vedomosti reported the decision on October 30th, noting that the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) is drawing lots to allocate free campaigning time to various political parties today.

The airtime is to be used in the month leading up to December State Duma elections. Half of the time is marked for advertising, and the other half for a series of ideological debates. Recent reforms in electoral legislation have allowed parties to avoid participating in the discussions, if they so choose.

United Russia has cited a desire to “explain the party’s program to the voter more fully.” According to Andrei Vorobyev, the head of United Russia’s executive committee, their foremost challenge is “elucidating the essence of the “Putin plan” to voters, and appealing to voters to support the nation’s leader.” Instead of televised exchanges, Vorobyev has suggested staging discussions on “alternate platforms.”

Sergei Mitrokhin, the Deputy Chairman of the Yabloko party, is sure that United Russia doesn’t want to enter in direct confrontation because it fears embarrassment at the hands of opponents. “One too many times, the party in power has demonstrated that it has nothing to say. It allows only unfair dialogue, using its monopoly on the airwaves.”

Vadim Melnikov, of the Communist Party (CPRF) Central Committee, pronounced similar sentiments:

“United Russia’s refusal makes obsolete the whole idea of debates in front of TV cameras.

“What’s the point in arguing with the parties of bureaucrats who failed to join United Russia for some reason or other or else with the parties that do not really stand a chance?”