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    MOSCOW, March 10, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) chief has warned regional authorities against bringing pressure to bear on election commissions during the March 14 presidential election.

    Administrative tricks and attempts to exert pressure will not yield the desired effect, but will lead to a protest vote, Mr Veshnyakov said at a Moscow press conference on Wednesday.

    "We are alarmed by this bowing and scraping to superiors," said Mr Veshnyakov. He added that this behavior of regional officials may do them an ill service.

    The CEC chief mentioned attempts to pressurize election commissions by regional and local authorities in the Arkhangelsk region (Russia's Northwest district) and in the Ryazan region (Central Federal District), which will hold gubernatorial elections simultaneously with the presidential elections.

    "Attempts to pressurize election commissions during the vote are qualified as a criminal offense," recalled Mr Veshnyakov.

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