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    MOSCOW, February 5, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Vladimir Putin refused free television time which all presidential hopefuls are bound to have before the new presidential elections, Alexander Veshnyakov, head of the Russian Central Election Commission, reported on Thursday .

    Veshnyakov explained that every candidate "has the right to make such a step".

    The presidential elections in which 7 or 8 candidates will take part are slated for March 14.

    The free broadcasting time at federal channels will be divided between candidates on February 9. Part of the free broadcasting time will be given to debates between the candidates.

    The candidates will be able to carry out their electioneering activities on television on workdays from February 12 to March 12.

    Each of the federal television companies should give to the registered candidates for the post a president at least one hour of free broadcasting time a day.

    According to the Russian legislation the candidates had the right to refuse all free broadcasting time or part of it prior to January 29.

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