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Friday, February 15, 2008

Annals of Neo-Soviet Barbarism: The Presidential Charade

The Moscow Times reports:

Ads at polling stations will inform voters that presidential candidates Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Andrei Bogdanov concealed their true incomes while applying to run, the Central Elections Commission said Monday.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, confirmed by President Vladimir Putin as his chosen successor and nominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, is the only candidate who comes out clean in the ad.

In accordance with election laws, posters containing information about undeclared income by the three candidates will be placed inside voting booths, commission member Nikolai Konkin said in an e-mailed statement, adding that all regional commissions will receive the posters by Tuesday. According to information provided by Konkin, each of the three candidates misrepresented his income and assets in his application to run. "Information about incorrect data contained in the section concerning real estate assets was obtained from the Federal Tax Service [and] the Federal Registration Service," Konkin said. Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, failed to declare gifts from a charitable organization of just over 17,000 rubles ($690), the commission said in an e-mailed statement. "They alleged that I had concealed 17,000 rubles," Zyuganov told Ekho Moskvy Monday. "But they didn't give me a kopek -- this is nonsense." Zyuganov spokesman Alexander Yushchenko confirmed that Zyuganov failed to declare gifts in the form of a medal and a certificate in recognition of his "contribution in the development of orphanages," Yushchenko said. When asked to put a price on the medal, he answered, "I don't know, it was an ordinary, metallic medal."

Democratic Party leader Bogdanov failed to declare a Moscow apartment owned by his wife with an area of 64.3 square meters. Bogdanov said he did not mention the apartment in his application because his wife had actually never lived there and was only joint owner of the property with her parents. He said he wasn't really troubled by the posters. "You can't blame the mirror if the face in it is crooked," he said.

Zhirinovsky, meanwhile, is charged with failing to declare over 12.6 million rubles ($512,000) in interest income from bank deposits, earnings from Moscow State Open University over the previous four years of 25,000 rubles ($1,010) and a 576-square-meter plot of land in the Saratov region. "I have never concealed anything," the Liberal Democratic Party leader said Monday in an e-mailed statement.

The fourth presidential candidate, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, did not conceal any income, Central Elections Commission member Maya Grishina said.

Medvedev reported an income of $71,000 per year over the past four years, owns a 367.8-square-meter apartment in Moscow, a 4,700-square-meter plot of land outside the city, and savings of 2.74 million rubles (about $110,000). His application says he does not own a car. Along with his post in the government, Medvedev is chairman of Gazprom, which in 2006 reported a profit of $13 billion. Putin declared an income of about $81,000 last year when he ran for parliament. He said he owned a small apartment in St. Petersburg and a plot of land outside Moscow.

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