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    MOSCOW, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - International observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) called the Russian presidential elections on March 14, 2004, "free and democratic."

    The head of the mission of observers from CIS countries, Yury Yarov, made this statement on Monday.

    According to him, the presidential elections in Russia "were well organized on the whole." He also called upon all other international observers to join his statement.

    Mr. Yarov said that the international observers from the CIS countries monitored 68 constituent members of the Russian Federation.

    "On the day of the elections, March 14, 2004, they visited 1,249 polling stations and directly observed their opening, the organization of the voting process and the tallying of the results," said Mr. Yarov.

    He said that the polling stations opened on time, the voting process "went in a quiet, businesslike fashion" and overall it met "the requirements of the Russian Federation election legislation."

    However, the international observers also noted certain drawbacks in the voting process: inaccuracies in the voter lists, ballots were filled out outside voting booths and conditions for the work of international observers were not created everywhere.

    "The noted drawbacks in the organization of the pre-election campaign and during the voting did not influence, however, free voting or the results of the elections," concluded Mr. Yarov.

    According to him, the detailed report on the activity of the observers from the CIS countries will be submitted to the CIS Heads of State Council.

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