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    MOSCOW, MARCH 15, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI). The presidential elections held last Sunday cost the federal budget 2.5 billion rubles (about $88 million). This is more than the State Duma elections cost last December, said Central Election Commission head Alexander Veshnyakov.

    According to him, the total cost of the current presidential elections was also greater since it included extra-budgetary means. It made up 4.3 billion rubles, whereas the December elections cost 3.5 billion rubles.

    Veshnyakov explained this by several factors. First, a new Labor Code came into force in the country, in compliance with which the state should pay to those who work in the district election commissions. Earlier, the employers paid.

    In addition, the price of the election ballot increased four times - from 0.4 rubles to 1.5 rubles because of the use of special protection means, Veshnyakov said.

    According to him, the candidates paid 2-3 times less for the current election campaign than for the parliamentary elections. Irina Khakamada, the candidate from the right forces, had the biggest election fund - about 90 million rubles. The law establishes the maximum size of one candidate's fund at 250 million rubles, reported the chairman of the Central Election Commission.

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