Candidates to Debate on Live TV for New Opposition Council

Source: Smiby.orgIn the latest initiative to create a united anti-Putin oppositional force in Russia, organizers of the Opposition Coordination Council have announced a series of events to help the Russian public become familiar with its candidates, reports.

Leonid Volkov, a representative of the Council’s electoral bureau (TsVK), said at a press conference on Tuesday that there will be three events organized by the council for the candidates, who are free to campaign independently as well.

The first TsVK event will be a series of televised debates, scheduled to air live on the independent channel Dozhd. According to Volkov, the debates will take the form of a tournament, in order to ensure a level of fair competition between the 216 people registered to run for the council’s 45 seats. The first stage will consist of 54 groups of four, from which one person each will be chosen. Another six candidates, who were chosen as the most popular through online voting, will then be added to this group of 54. The 60 resulting candidates will then be broken into 20 groups, one person from each of which will be chosen, eventually resulting in five.

The debates, which are not a part of Russia’s electoral tradition, stand in stark contrast to President Vladimir Putin’s comments that he is “too busy” for such activities. Despite this being his third term as president, he has never participated in a debate with his opponents.

Volkov called the second event a “political compass,” in which TsVK representatives will question all candidates about their political positions. The results will then be posted on the KS website for voters to consider.

The third part of “official” TsVK campaigning will be a contest among the candidates’ political programs. Candidates will write essays on how they picture a future Russia that has undergone a change in ruling government, and on what the role of the KS should be. The essays will then be posted online without the authors’ names, and voters can choose which ones they most prefer.

None of the results of these events will have any direct bearing on candidates’ ability to run in the election, Volkov stressed – they are simply meant to inform the public of who their choices are.

The Opposition Coordination Council elections will be held on October 20-21, 2012. Currently, more than 38 thousand people have undergone the thorough verification process to register to vote online. Volkov said he expects those numbers to reach around 150-200 thousand by late October. In addition to online voting, organizers are planning to open 70-80 electoral committees all across Russia where people will be given internet access to vote. The resulting committee, made up of 30 general delegates and five each with particularly left, liberal, or nationalist views, will aim to give the non-systemic opposition a stronger, more united voice in the face of ongoing persecution in Russia.