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    Russia doubts fairness of elections in Georgia

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    Russia's Foreign Ministry said Sunday it doubts that Saturday's presidential elections in Georgia were democratic because they were accompanied by pressure on opposition candidates and the "administrative resource" was widely used.

    MOSCOW, January 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said Sunday it doubts that Saturday's presidential elections in Georgia were democratic because they were accompanied by pressure on opposition candidates and the "administrative resource" was widely used.

    "Reports from mass media, NGOs and opposition representatives have been coming on numerous violations of elections laws by the authorities," the ministry said.

    According to the latest data from the Georgian Central Election Commission, former Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili has gained 50.17% of the vote, his top rival Levon Gachechiladze received 25.21%, businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili won 7.47%, Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili, 6.22%, New Rightist leader David Gamkrelidze, 3.73%, and others gained less than 1%.

    The election commission said Saakashvili has lost about 19% of the vote since the first announcement which said he was gaining more than 69%.

    The candidate who gains 50% plus one vote wins the election. If none of the candidates gains the necessary amount, the election commission will set the date for a second round, to be held in two weeks.

    The U.S. and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Saturday's snap election in Georgia, which was called by Saakashvili in November 2007 after opposition protests were crushed, was broadly fair.

    Gachechiladze has said the election was held with gross violations. "We will submit complaints on all violations during elections to the CEC," he said. Other opposition candidates also questioned the fairness of the election.

    According to a parallel vote count by a nongovernmental organization, U.S.-educated Saakashvili is also leading with over 50% in Georgian regions, but is behind Gachechiladze in Tbilisi.

    Several thousand Georgians supporting Gachechiladze held a rally in the country's capital Tbilisi Sunday showing their distrust of the presidential election vote count.

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