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    OSCE MISSION CHIEF HAILS RUSSIA'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AS WELL ORGANISED

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    MOSCOW, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The March 14 presidential election was very well organised, Julian Peel Yates, chief of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers, said at a Moscow news conference on Monday.

    He said Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) had displayed high professionalism and technological preparedness for the poll, as well as transparency and efficiency in the preparatory process. Mr. Yates also hailed the sincere willingness to provide an opportunity to vote for as many voters as possible, including to residents of remote areas.

    OSCE observers said the country had ensured the openness and transparency of the election.

    However, the OSCE mission chief believes the election process did not completely reflect the principles of democratic elections. He pointed to the lack of the competition of different political positions.

    Rudolf Bindig, who is heading a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), noted, at the press conference, the atmosphere of freedom during the vote.

    To the Council of Europe this election was part of a broad democratic process under way in Russia, said Mr. Bindig.

    However, Mr. Bindig was critical of "family" or "group" voting cases as they affected the secrecy of vote. There were also cases, when observers were prevented from monitoring the election. However, those were separate cases, which did not affect the overall monitoring process, according to Mr. Bindig.

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