28 parties ready to sign election compact

Twenty-eight of the 43 political parties that have been allowed to stand for parliament have agreed to sign a social compact, Election 2003. This is a gentlemen's agreement of a sort that obliges the signatories to behave correctly in the run-up to election to the State Duma, or the lower parliamentary house. Moreover, four news media associations and two political technology societies have also voiced the desire to sign the document.

On Thursday, Moscow hosted a meeting of the committee for drafting the compact and the public-political forum of election participants. The meeting finalised the wordings of the compact, the signatories' declaration and provisions on a body that will oversee the observance of the compact. Apart from that, the meeting brought forth a programme of the forum of election participants.

All the parties that have factions in the Duma, including United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), the Union of Right Forces (SPS), Yabloko and the People's Party, are ready to sign the compact. The document bans mutual sleaze, does not allow to use advantages of being in power and advocates equal opportunities in informing the electorate and open public discussions.

A council that will involve representatives of the political parties, media and political technology associations will oversee the observance of the compact.

The committee approved the programme of the forum of election participants, due to open in Moscow on August 22.

"This is going to be an outstanding and interesting event," Andrei Przhezdomsky, head of the Russian foundation of free election, told reporters. The compact will be signed at the forum's opening ceremony, he said.

Central election commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov backed the initiative saying Russia had not as of yet seen such precedents.

"For the first time in Russia's history all parties will gather at the start of the election race to offer their programmes and ideas," said Mr Veshnyakov.

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