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Fair-Play Proposal Gets No Support

Published: August 12, 2003 (Issue # 892)


The highest profile candidate for the post of governor of St. Petersburg called over the weekend for all candidates to avoid the use of dirty tricks during the upcoming campaign - and promptly found herself accused of exactly what she said she wanted to avoid.

Valentina Matviyenko, the presidential representative to the Northwest Region, circulated a petition to other candidates asking them to sign a pledge not to engage in unfair campaigning.

"We, the undersigned, are obliged not to ... bribe voters; publish anonymous advertising materials not paid for by the candidate's election funds; distribute fake advertisements or organize antisocial actions in other candidates' names; distribute false, insulting or discrediting rumors, distribute fake accusations via the Internet or other non-official information sources ...," read the document, which was sent out to local media outlets by Matviyenko's press service on Monday.

Monday afternoon, the petition still had just one signature - Matviyenko's.

Representatives of other candidates called the petition a dishonest move on Matviyenko's part.

"[Matviyenko] sent us a letter on Friday asking us to help with work on a petition, but the letter had no contact numbers," Yabloko party representative Olga Pokrovskaya, who works the headquarters of Mikhail Amosov, the Yabloko candidate for the elections, said in a telephone interview on Monday. "We would be happy to work on such a petition, but it appeared in the media on Monday with no consultation."

"As one of my colleagues said, it's as though you asked a pack of wolves to become vegetarians," she said, adding that the document failed to cover one important area.

"Nothing is said about guaranteeing all candidates equal media access, one of the main ways to avoid dirty tricks," Pokrovskaya said.

Speculation has been rife in St. Petersburg that the Kremlin is trying to gag local media outlets to make it easier for Matviyenko to win the race for governor. At the end of June, the new management of local television channel St. Petersburg Television, or TRK, shut down a range of analytical programs on local politics. The channel's new boss formerly worked at pro-Kremlin television channel Rossiya.

"When I saw this petition, I didn't think about whether or not I'd sign it - I was thinking why this initiative came from this specific source," gubernatorial candidate and Legislative Assembly lawmaker Konstantin Sukhenko said in a telephone interview on Monday.

"I have certain doubts about the integrity of this initiative," he said. "This is a public-relations move, and I'm not going to be part of someone else's public-relations campaign."

Tatyana Dorutina, head of the St. Petersburg League of Voters, said the petition had put all the candidates in a very uncomfortable position.

"On the one hand, anyone who doesn't sign it will have to explain why they are against it," Dorutina said in a telephone interview on Monday. "This move would obviously reinforce [Matviyenko's] position."

"On the other hand, it looks like none of the candidates is interested in making contact with the voters," she said. "This is because all the candidates seem to think that votes will come to them of their own accord, and this is a very bad sign."

The gubernatorial elections are slated for Sept. 21, with 11 candidates on the ballot sheet. The elections were due to be held in May next year, but were moved to September after President Vladimir Putin appointed former governor Vladimir Yakovlev to work in the federal government as deputy prime minister in charge of communal-services reform.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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