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    NO LAWS CONTRAVENED BY PUTIN'S MEETING WITH HIS AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES, RUSSIAN FUND FOR FREE ELECTIONS STATED

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    MOSCOW, 14 February, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent). -Vladimir Putin's meeting with his authorized representatives did not contravene any laws; it demonstrated his readiness to account for his work to the public, says a statement issued by the Russian Fund for Free Elections. The statement was made available for RIA Novosti on Saturday.

    "Following numerous requests for the Russian Fund for Free Elections to clarify our position with regard to the meeting the candidate for the post of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin held with his authorized representatives on February 12, 2004, we authoritatively state that this form of the incumbent President's communication with his voters is in full compliance with the law. Moreover, it provides convincing evidence of the head of state's readiness to account for his work to society," the document reads.

    "It goes without saying that the very fact of such communication is a significant newsbreak opportunity for journalists. It is for that reason the event has caused such a strong resonance in mass media. As far as we know, the meeting was held at a non-partisan venue - Moscow State University, with the costs covered from the candidate's legitimate election fund. Therefore, any legal claims on this account are absolutely irrelevant," the statement points out.

    According to the Russian Fund for Free Elections, it would be "quite appropriate if other presidential candidates held similar meetings. Those may cause a strong resonance in mass media too".

    "Voters expect their candidates to present their programs in a clear and coherent fashion. These programs ought to take account of people's genuine interests and hopes," the statement issued by the Russian Fund for Free Elections says.

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