25 Oct 2023 16:45

State Duma passes bill specifying Russian presidential election procedure

MOSCOW. Oct 25 (Interfax) - The State Duma on Wednesday passed a bill at its third and final reading that specifies the procedure for Russian presidential elections.

According to the bill, "should martial law be declared in a part of the territory of the Russian Federation, elections of the president of the Russian Federation can be held there consistent with Article 10.1 of the Law on Basic Guarantees of Electoral and Referenda Rights of Citizens of the Russian Federation."

The article envisages that "if preparations for and the holding of elections or referenda in a constituent territory of the Russian Federation may endanger the lives and health of Russian citizens after they are announced, such elections or referenda shall be postponed by the Russian Central Elections Commission. The latter shall immediately inform the Russian president about its decision."

The article also says that if martial law is imposed, the top-ranking official of the region under martial law may propose to the Russian Central Elections Commission to hold elections or referenda in the region at least 130 days before and no later than 90 days before the vote.

The Central Elections Commission, following the consultations which are to be held within five days, makes a decision to announce or hold the elections, including within a shorter period for the election or referendum campaign, or to reject the proposal for an election made by the top-ranking official of the constituent territory.

The election or referendum campaign may resume with the authorization of the Central Elections Commission if the circumstances which caused the elections or referenda to be postponed no longer exist.

The Russian Central Elections Commission may define the specific features of the preparations for and holding of Russian presidential elections during martial law in a part of Russian territory.

The bill also stipulates that polling stations outside Russian territory "may adjust the time of the start and end of the ballot and its duration at the decision of the chief of a Russian embassy or consulate if the ballot endangers the lives and health of Russian citizens."

Under the bill, photo and video recording at polling stations can only be carried out by individuals who have the right to do so in accordance with the law, ruling out violations of the secrecy of voting and control over the expression of voters' will. Personal data contained in lists of voters and other documents must also be kept confidential.

Only accredited media representatives will be allowed to take photos and make videos at polling stations on the premises of military units with the consent of the military unit commander.

In addition, only representatives of media outlets who work for editorial offices under contracts of employment can be accredited at the meetings of elections commissions (for establishing results, determining results, ballot counts), the document said.

The document obligates registered candidates who receive convictions to submit information on their convictions in written form to the elections commissions that registered them.

The document also envisages procedures for opening and using accounts created for elections commissions, governs issues relating to labor remuneration for members of elections commissions, and stipulates the possibility of co-financing from the budget of Russian regions and local budgets for preparing and organizing Russian presidential elections.

The document establishes a price ceiling for the production of election campaigning materials at two percent of the per capita subsistence minimum per unit of output. In the current edition of the document, this price ceiling is 100 rubles.

The document updates the powers of candidates' campaign representatives and states that these powers end after the election campaign.

The document also decrees that, if a representative of a political party who is a foreign agent is involved in a joint election campaign event, their speech is to be preceded or accompanied by information that this political party's representative is a foreign agent.

Under current Russian electoral legislation, a presidential election will be held in Russia in the middle of March 2024. A final decision on the election date will be made by the Federation Council in December 2023, and it will be no earlier than 100 days and no later than 90 days before the voting day, State Duma State-Building and Legislation Committee head Pavel Krasheninnikov, one of the initiators of the bill, said.