The Central Election Commission (TsIK) has cast lots to distribute television air time for the campaign messages of the 42 parties running for the Duma. Under electoral legislation, each party is entitled to one hour of free TV time, including 30 minutes on prime time, for the duration of the official electoral campaign until election eve. The rule applies to Russian Public TV (ORT, or channel 1) , Russian Television (channel 2), and the regional channel "Sankt-Peterburg". The rule does not cover commercial TV stations, including the biggest independent station, NTV, which opposes the government. According to ORT director general Sergei Blagovolin, 34 parties have to date submitted requests for additional, paid time. He insinuated that even the smallest parties "seem to have no shortage of funds for electoral propaganda". Blagovolin said that ORT prefers to broadcast "round tables and debates, rather than airing candidates’ monologues." (12) Blagovolin’s policy statement has prompted strong criticism from various parties, who insist on their right to choose the format in which they address the public. Moreover they point out that the government’s Russia is Our Home bloc has an unfair advantage in that some of its candidates are well known TV journalists. (13)
Security And MVD Ministers Upgraded.