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    MOSCOW, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Rudolf Bindig, the head delegate of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), told a new conference in Moscow on Monday that the Russian presidential elections on March 14 were held in "a free atmosphere."

    "For the Council of Europe this election is an instance of the broad democratic process, now on-going in Russia," Mr. Bindig said.

    At the same time, he noted "family" or "group" voting, which affect the secret ballot procedure, was a negative aspect of the elections.

    In addition, there were incidents when the work of the observers was impeded, but overall these incidents did not affect their work, said Mr. Bindig.

    The PACE observers inspected over 1,500 polling stations in Russia. In 95% percent of the cases, they praised of work of the election commissions.

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