RUSSIA’S Communist Party has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating a “media vacuum” around their presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin ahead of March elections.
The Russian mass media had previously “organised mass information attacks” on Mr Grudinin, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) said, but the tactic changed after the government realised this was merely raising his public profile.
A source close to the government told the party that Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin had rebuked broadcast chiefs, saying: “What are you doing? Anti-advertising is also advertising.”
Since then, media exposure of President Vladimir Putin’s rivals has plummeted, with analysis of a week’s TV shows published by the KPRF showing the president was mentioned in 759 stories, compared to just 103 for Mr Grudinin.
Between January 14 and 19 Mr Grudinin was mentioned 35 times on federal TV, the party added, with 23 of these mentions being negative and just two positive.
The communist candidate is second placed according to opinion polls in Russia, but trails way behind Mr Putin, who has polled at over 50 per cent in most surveys.
But Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov says the Putin regime has failed to address “mass impoverishment and a decrease in purchasing power.
“For the fourth year in a row, citizens’ incomes have fallen. The flight of capital is increasing.
“Over the next three years spending on economic and social development is planned to shrink by 17 per cent.”
And Mr Putin was lording over a society “afflicted with the plagues of total bribery and nepotism,” Mr Zyuganov declared.
“It is impossible to cope with the crisis and defeat corruption without changing the social and economic system,” the communist leader announced, outlining a 19-point programme to be implemented if Mr Grudinin wins, including renationalisation of key sectors of the economy, restoring free medical check-ups, extending pre-school learning and care, rebuilding Russian industry, an eight-hour day, price controls on food and a guaranteed first job for university graduates.
Western media darling Alexei Navalny, who claims to represent the real opposition to Mr Putin but is polling at less than 1 per cent, was arrested on the way to a demonstration calling for a boycott of the presidential election at the weekend.
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