CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION COMES OUT AGAINST LIFTING RESTRICTIONS ON PARTY ELECTION FUNDS

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MOSCOW, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) Alexander Veshnyakov comes out against lifting restrictions on the election funds of political parties.

"This proposal is not new and our response to it is not new, either. We are against it," Mr. Veshnyakov told journalists after the session with party leaders which focused on the modernization of the electoral democracy system in Russia.

The opinion that parties will show all their money if restrictions are lifted is an illusion, the CEC chairman said.

During the 2003 parliamentary elections, only two political parties, United Russia and the Union of Right Forces (SPS) were close to the maximal limit (250 million rubles), Alexander Veshnyakov noted.

"If the limit is removed those who can collect enormous sums of money will seize power," he emphasized adding that it was inadmissible.

Today Secretary of the United Russia General Council Valery Bogomolov said that limits of party election funds were unnecessary.

"Party funds should not be limited. Let them spend money and give us honest accounts. Party budgets should be taken from the shadow to the light," Mr. Bogomolov stressed.

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