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Communists Defend Their 'Mailman Hunt'

The Communist Party on Monday reiterated accusations that its main rival, United Russia, is getting help in its campaign from state-owned Russian Post, which has earlier accused the Communists of conducting a "mailman hunt."

Ivan Melnikov, who runs the Communists' campaign for the upcoming State Duma elections, said on the party web site that Russian Post is distributing an illegally printed election newspaper targeting United Russia's opponents.

Two Duma lawmakers with the Communists, aided by police, searched a postal van in Samara earlier this month, looking for the newspaper, but found nothing, Russian Post head Alexander Kiselyov said in an open letter on Saturday.

The Communists reported later obtaining the newspaper, Den Vyborov (Elections Day) at a postal office in Samara. In a video released on the party's web site, a woman identified as a postal worker says her branch is distributing the newspaper on orders from their superiors.

Kiselyov dismissed these reports in his open letter, insisting that the woman was not a Russian Post employee.

He also demanded apologies from Communist Party head Gennady Zyuganov for "involving [his agency] in political games." No such apology was proffered Monday.

Melnikov also pointed out that Russian Post is actually affiliated with United Russia, having joined earlier this year the All-Russia People's Front, an election group that fielded about a quarter of the candidates for United Russia's Duma list. Kiselyov did not comment on the accusation as of late Monday.

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