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    CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION CHIEF SIGNALS READINESS FOR ELECTIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 10, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) chief Aleksandr Veshnyakov has signaled readiness for the March 14 presidential election.

    "Polling stations will be equipped, ballot papers prepared and the name of Ivan Rybkin, who has withdrawn from the race, will be stricken off the papers within the next 3 days before the election," Mr Veshnyakov said at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

    The candidates can pull out from the race before March 12 for extraordinary reasons, health problems for example, recalled Mr Veshnyakov. He suggested that none of the presidential hopefuls would do that.

    "The tasks facing the election commissions are clear and manageable," said the CEC chief. The idea is to provide proper conditions for each of the 109 million Russian voters, according to him.

    Mr Veshnyakov called on the election commissions to ensure an amiable atmosphere and the feeling of holiday cheer on March 14.

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