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Dzurinda slapped for dirty election tactics

AN INDEPENDENT ethics council to ensure fair play in Slovakia's ongoing election campaign has censured the SDKÚ party, whose leader, Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, called an opponent "a devious, refined manipulator."

The opponent, media baron Pavol Rusko of the Ano party, is himself in the dock on three charges of unfair political campaigning, in particular the use of his journalists at the Markíza TV station to assist in Ano's election drive.

While Rusko welcomed the council's censure of Dzurinda, SDKÚ vice-chairman Zuzana Martináková called it "interference with voter decision-making," and said the council has set a precedent in the third sector.

The ethics council comprises an historian, several journalists, a writer, an economist and several non-governmental activists. The national elections have been called for September 20-21, with a 30-day official campaign to precede them

The campaign 'fair play' rules, which have been signed by eight parties (most from the ruling coalition), include the following:

* Following all existing laws and rules

* Not putting unusual pressure on the voter and respecting his/her freedom of choice

* Not spreading false or misleading information on political rivals

* Not attacking rivals in an aggressive way or in a manner that transgresses against the rules of polite behaviour

* Not paying voters in money, gifts or promises of other favours

* Not abusing friendly relations with media

* Separating party activities from state, government or constitutional functions

* Acknowledging all party income and campaign expenses

* Avoiding provocative statements about members of other ethnic groups, races, nations, religions or sexual orientations

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