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    CEC HEAD REMINDS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR FAKING VOTERS' SIGNATURES

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    MOSCOW, January 8 (RIA Novosti correspondent Nikolai Makarov) - Russian Central Election Commission head Alexander Veshnyakov does not recommend presidential hopefuls to follow the path of falsifying voters' signatures.

    "We turned to law enforcement bodies asking not to allow criminalization of the process of collecting signatures in support of presidential candidates," Veshnyakov told journalists Thursday.

    "Those who don't want to collect signatures but will fake them instead will be in for great trouble," he stressed.

    Veshnyakov said that, according to the law, falsifiers of voters' signatures in support of candidates will be brought to account, up to criminal.

    The CEC head said the Central Election Commission will create a working group numbering 60-80 people who will be engaged in checking voters' signatures submitted by presidential candidates.

    According to the law, all independent candidates, as well party-nominated, who failed to pass the 5% hurdle at the parliamentary election, will have to submit to the Russian Federation Central Election Commission at least 2 million signatures of voters in their support.

    Presidential elections are scheduled for March 14, 2004.

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