Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday signed a series of laws changing the rules for holding federal elections. According to the president's press office, the changes forbid public organisations that form part of electoral blocks from taking part in elections. From January 1, 2004, when the changes come into force, only political parties will be allowed to field candidates.
The president also approved changes to the law on electing the State Duma. The changes prevent parties and electoral blocks from using free airtime and print advertising if they have debts to media organisations. Officials standing for election are also forbidden to publish reports on their work during the election campaign. This will now be regarded as misuse of office.