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    CHECHNYA HOLDS EARLY RUSSIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 4, 2004 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Early Russian presidential elections will be held in Chechnya on March 4-6.

    The early elections were organized for servicemen in units that are deployed in mountainous regions, in places that are difficult to access and in areas that are far from electoral precincts, the chairman of Chechnya's election commission, Adbul-Kerim Arsakhanov told RIA Novosti.

    He said that 4,500 servicemen, including approximately 3,700 border guards would be able to vote early.

    Mr. Arsakhanov also reported that early elections would be held at seven electoral precincts in the Vedeno and Shatoi districts. These precincts have already received the necessary number of ballot papers and are completely ready to hold the elections, he said.

    A representative of the Regional Operational Staff for commanding counter terrorist operations in the North Caucasus, Colonel Ilya Shabalkin, reported that border guards deployed in difficult to access mountainous districts would take part in the elections.

    According to the Interior Ministry's press service, several thousand servicemen will vote early because on election day, they may be fulfilling the tasks of the joint forces in the North Caucasus or traveling by train.

    About 2,000 servicemen will cast absentee ballots because they will be on leave or on official missions.

    The Russian presidential elections are scheduled for March 14.

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