UPDATE - Moscow offers support to merging regions

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, September 9 (RIA Novosti, Oksana Guseva) - The chairman of Russia's Central Election Commission said Friday that Moscow would provide every support to the unification of regions and would use the expertise of other regions to this end.

Alexander Veshnyakov said a special interdepartmental commission was being set up to oversee federal bodies' efforts to coordinate work after referendums that voted in favor of regional mergers. "A special federal constitutional law will have to be adopted as well," he said.

Veshnyakov said referendums were held in areas where a merger could help improve people's prosperity.

Veshnyakov said several more mergers were under discussion, but no final decision had been made.

But he added that the armies of bureaucrats that emerged when Russia was divided into new Federation members would probably block many merger initiatives.

Referendums on the merger of the Kamchatka and Koryak autonomies in the Far East will take place on October 23.

While in Kamchatka, CEC officials met with local and Koryak election commission members, regional leaders, security and military officials, and members of indigenous ethnic groups.

The local legislatures said the question in the referendum complied with local and federal legislation.

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