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    MOSCOW, March 10, 2004 (RIA Novosti) -- Experts of the ROMIR-Monitoring research holding forecast the turnout to exceed 70% at the Russian presidential elections due on March 14.

    Speaking at a RIA Novosti press conference today, Head of the public and political studies of the holding Mikhail Tarusin summed up public opinion polls for January-February 2004. According to him, society is now in a state of "cautious optimism." "On the whole, the majority of the population is certain of good prospects for themselves and their near and dear," said the expert. In his words, stability and optimism are taking root in public sentiments.

    According to Mr. Tarusin, aspiration for reform, private entrepreneurship and personal freedom can be seen in Russian society, though the idea of forming and developing a strong state is also very popular. "The idea of strong statehood is typical for Russia. This idea was developed by Russian philosophers back in the 19th century. Russia's entire history and state experience have molded such a mentality of our people," the expert believes.

    According to ROMIR-Monitoring, three fourths of Russians are convinced that Russia should have its own, original development route. "75% insist that we should tread our own path. If you ask, nobody will tell you exactly in what way, but Russian people have always been convinced of their originality," said Mr. Tarusin.

    At the same time, 18% believe that Russia should follow the example of Western democracies, and only 2% prefer the Asian way, said the expert.

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