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    RUSSIAN PATRIARCH CASTS HIS BALLOT IN PRESIDENTIAL VOTING

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 14, 2004, RIA NOVOSTI - Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia has taken part in today's presidential election. He was in no position to attend the polls, so election officials came over to his place with an absentee ballot and a portable ballot box.

    "Each and every citizen-whether a believer or an atheist, young or elderly-must take part in the voting to express his/her opinion and to perform his/her civic duty," Alexis II said to reporters after he had cast his own ballot. "We all ought to realize that Russia's future will depend on our choice and that Russia is our homeland." "I believe that our people are wise and that they will make the right choice," the Orthodox leader emphasized in conclusion.

    Prelates of Russia's other mainstream faiths are also taking part in the vote.

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