Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, March 2

© Alex StefflerRussian Press - Behind the Headlines, March 2
Russian Press - Behind the Headlines, March 2  - Sputnik International
Putin Gets More TV Time Than Other Candidates / Duma Suggests Lowering Criminal Liability Age to 12 / Churov Slams Fake Webcam Footage in Advance


Putin Gets More TV Time Than Other Candidates

Under the law, Channel One and Rossiya 1 are to provide equal time to all presidential candidates but in fact Vladimir Putin got much more attention than his rivals.

The two channels broadcast a special program about the candidates, Presidential Election 2012 but the analysis of their Sunday news segments shows that Putin invariably got preferential treatment.

On February 25, Rossiya 1 began a weekly show with its forecasts for the March 4 election. Then it reported on “obviously the largest” pro-Putin meeting (5 minutes 51 seconds), while devoting 1:38 to Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 2:17 to Gennady Zyuganov, 1:00 to Mikhail Prokhorov and 1:24 to Sergei Mironov. The segment also included a 9:18 item about Putin’s article on Russia’s defense industry, published by Rossiiskaya Gazeta, and his visits to Sarov and Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The news on the convention of the People’s Front’s Volunteer Movement in support of the army, the navy and the defense industry lasted almost seven minutes and mentioned support for presidential candidate Putin.

The Sunday news on Channel One started with a long segment on the presidential candidates (20 minutes). It included information about the pro-Putin meeting at Luzhniki Arena (over seven minutes), the other four candidates (approximately 1:30-2:00 each) and political analysts’ election forecasts. Like Rossiya 1, the channel also reported on Putin’s working visits and quoted from his article (7:26 in total).

The difference between Putin’s airtime and the other four candidates’ airtime was also considerable on other days for these two channels.

On February 27, both channels reported on the foiled assassination of Putin (10:23 on Channel One, nearly five minutes on Rossiya 1) and Putin’s article in Moskovskiye Novosti (about 2:00 and 4:25, respectively).

Later that day, Channel One broadcast short reports about the other four candidates (about one minute each), while Rossiya 1 gave them a little more time, 7:38.

On February 28, Putin was given less time as prime minister. Still, both channels reported on his visit to Astrakhan, the details of the foiled attempt on his life (about one minute), and his address to the agrarian forum in Ufa. His four rivals were given slightly more than six minutes all together on Rossiya 1, while Channel One devoted only about one minute to Prokhorov and no time at all to the other three candidates.

On February 29, Putin met with his campaign activists. The two channels said he “took the day off” to address the meeting as a presidential candidate. Rossiya 1 showed an item that lasted 7:21 and Channel One, 10:26. The other four candidates were given 5:35 on Rossiya 1 and approximately the same on Channel One.

And finally, on February 29, Channel One cut into a show at around 2:40 p.m. to broadcast live from Putin’s meeting with his campaign activists (20 minutes). None of the other candidates received so much individual time on the state channels.

Argumenty i Fakty

Duma Suggests Lowering Criminal Liability Age to 12

A bill is being considered that would lower the age at which juveniles can be held fully responsible for criminal acts. The State Duma Committee for Constitutional Law and State Development (chaired by Vladimir Pligin) is drafting the bill.

The bill proposes lowering the minimum age from 16 to 14 for the applicable crimes. Further, juveniles convicted of the most serious crimes, that currently have penalties specifying a minimum age of 14 (homicide, kidnapping, burglary, hostage-taking, rape, and other violent crimes), could be punished as young as 12 years old.

According to the Committee’s Deputy Chairman, Vladimir Ponevezhsky, people are outraged by cruel juveniles who currently cannot be brought to justice by law. If we review how this question is handled in other countries, we see that the minimum punishable age is as low as 10 years, in the case of the UK for example.

The Presidential Children Rights Commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, believes, however, that this is an excessive measure.

A spokesperson for the Moscow Human Rights Center says the move would only criminalize the juvenile population because the bill does not provide for the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.

“There are no rehabilitation programs for juveniles after they are released from prison. They would be forced to grow up in a harsh prison environment with its gangs and lack of parental oversight. There can also be no justice for juveniles while the courts disregard whether or not a juvenile committed a crime under the influence of an adult, or what kind of psychological environment exists in an adolescent’s family,” attorney Mikhail Salkin told AiF.

In addition, it is possible that lowering the minimum punishable age could tempt dishonest law enforcement officers to bring criminal charges against the children of wealthy parents in order to extort bribes.

Moskovskiye Novosti

Churov Slams Fake Webcam Footage in Advance

Central Election Commission (CEC) head Vladimir Churov said videos exposing election fraud supposedly made by webcams on election day are already available online. The election webcam project has just been finalized.

The CEC approved the procedure for using the election webcams and the resulting footage at a meeting on Thursday. The cameras have been installed and are operating properly. Footage from all over Russia is already being streamed onto a huge plasma monitor in the CEC atrium. Right now it is showing kids running in and out of classrooms. At each polling station, one webcam will show the ballot boxes, and the other, the desks where the ballots are issued. After closing time, both will focus on the desk where the ballots will be counted.

Those wishing to follow the election online need to register at, which is currently working in test mode. At this stage, users will see an election webcam project video. As of March 1, more than 380,000 users had registered. Communications Minister Igor Shchegolev expects the number to reach 500,000 on election day.

The videos will probably be acceptable to the courts as evidence, he said. Deputy Minister Ilya Massukh said any user will be able to download 72 hours of footage after filing a request with the ministry, online or on paper.

It is also possible to request videos from the CEC. Anton Lopatin, the commission member responsible for the webcam project, said the CEC can also request video from the archive while investigating complaints. In this case, the footage can be obtained sooner. Those who apply to the ministry will likely have to wait until their request is processed.

Bloggers are concerned that the webcams will be used for falsification. Vadim Alexandrov from the Yabloko party, a member of a local election commission in St Petersburg, said all the commission members were asked to sign a form confirming that they have studied the instructions for using the webcams. The form resembles the final voting protocol, and could be used to manufacture fake protocols, he said.

Many election monitors are expected to post their own videos on the Internet, as they did after the parliamentary vote. Churov has already tried to avert the impending information attack by claiming that videos supposedly filmed on March 4 are already available online. However, a search for elections March 4 on YouTube returns two videos warning about the possibility of fake evidence. One shows a post-processed image of ballots being pushed into a ballot box, and the other shows the installation of a “stage set” at a fake polling station. Both videos call for registering with to obtain reliable footage.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has started investigating March 4 videos posted on the Internet, spokesman Vladimir Markin said. Investigators will identify where the videos were taken, who they show and who distributed them. If they find a “constituent element of offence” in these actions, a criminal case will be opened, he added.


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