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Russian network TV can show Oliver Stone's ‘The Putin Interviews,’ but election officials wish they'd wait until after the March 18 vote

Meduza
Update: Pervyi Kanal has canceled the broadcast of the fourth and final installment of Oliver Stone's “The Putin Interviews.” The state-run TV network has already aired the miniseries' first two episodes, and a third broadcast on February 14 will go ahead, given that it's already aired in Russia's Far East, said a spokesperson for Pervyi Kanal.

Russia’s Central Election Commission says the network television station Pervyi Kanal isn’t breaking any laws by showing Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews.”

The miniseries isn’t an advertisement, says Commissioner Ella Pamfilova, since it doesn’t directly call on people to vote for Vladimir Putin, express any opinion about his candidacy, or make any claims about what a fourth Putin presidency would entail.

Nevertheless, election officials are recommending that Pervyi Kanal wait until after the March 18 vote to air the rest of Stone’s interviews with Putin, arguing that TV networks should practice “due diligence” during the presidential race. Pervyi Kanal has not yet said if it will postpone the final two broadcasts of “The Putin Interviews.”

On February 13, officials from the liberal opposition party Yabloko and Ksenia Sobchak’s presidential campaign filed complaints with Russia’s Federal Election Commission, arguing that Pervyi Kanal is violating campaign laws by rebroadcasting Oliver Stone’s four-part series “The Putin Interviews.” Yabloko and Sobchak argued that campaigning on TV isn’t allowed until February 17, and also pointed out that the broadcast isn’t being funded by Vladimir Putin’s campaign, even though it promotes his candidacy, they say.

“The Putin Interviews” first aired on Russian network television in June 2017, reportedly becoming the most-watched television program of the year.