The court was petitioned by Russia's human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. Lukin asked the court to rule on the issue at the request of a man who was fined for distributing election materials urging voters to vote "against all candidates" in the 2003 parliamentary elections.
The man paid for the election materials out of his own pocket. Under current regulations, campaigning can be financed only out of election funds set up by political parties, individual candidates, or their representatives.
The Constitutional Court today ruled that the regulations pose "excessive restrictions on the freedom of expression and dissemination of information."
The voting "against all" option is favored by voters disillusioned with the existing array of political forces or candidates.