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    RUSSIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION WAS UP TO THE MARK

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    MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) - Vote counting was carried out much faster at these presidential elections. Already by 3:30 a.m. Moscow time, the Central Election Commission processed over 90% of the protocols of district election commissions, although CEC head Alexander Veshnyakov had forecasted that this mark would be passed only by 5:00 a.m.

    All data on how many votes the candidates received as the ballot papers were processed were shown in real time mode on displays in the Elections 2004 information center. The head of the Federal Information Center under the Russian Central Election Commission, Viktor Yashchenko told RIA Novosti that journalists could observe the vote count simultaneously with GAS-Vybory automated system operators.

    Alexander Veshnyakov said attacks attempted by hackers on the Central Election Commission's web site on the day of elections failed.

    "Such attacks were registered, but we feel more confident than at the parliamentary elections on December 7," Mr. Veshnyakov told RIA Novosti. Then, over 900 attacks were made on the CEC web site. After that, CEC experts enhanced the web site security.

    Mr. Veshnyakov said the results of the Russian presidential elections are being summed up absolutely openly. "Our data are open, the whole country can see them," Mr. Veshnyakov said while showing journalists the work of the display where presidential elections results in real time mode were demonstrated in the Elections 2004 information center. "We are open to society like never before," he added.

    Asked by journalists to comment on the parallel vote count organized by a joint staff of three candidates - Kharitonov, Khakamada and Glazyev, the CEC head said: "If someone wants to outstrip us, well, it's sound competition." Mr. Veshnyakov also said, "We do not see any results yet of the parallel vote count organized by presidential candidates Irina Khakamada, Sergei Glazyev and Nikolai Kharitonov." Mr. Kharitonov admitted Putin's victory and said the data of the alternative vote count practically coincided with the Central Election Commission's intermediate results. "It's already clear that the incumbent president is winning these elections," said Mr. Kharitonov. "It is a very important event for him." Mr. Kharitonov did not rule out cooperation with the winning candidate.

    Kharitonov said elections were held without any serious violations. "I have spoken with [representatives of] many Russian regions, and nobody told me about any noticeable violations." Mr. Kharitonov is satisfied with the vote's preliminary results, though, in his opinion, the KPRF (Communist party) would gain more votes if the elections were held three months later.

    At his birthplace, in the Novosibirsk region, Mr. Kharitonov also lost to Mr. Putin, who received 60.1% of the votes. The KPRF candidate got 28.6%.

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