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Number of Monitors in Russian Presidential Poll Same as for Parliamentary Vote


A top Russian election official says his country expects to invite about the same number of international observers to its March presidential elections as it did for this month's parliamentary vote.

Central Election Committee Deputy Chairman Stanislav Vavilov says he expects the number of observers and the time period set for their activities to be about the same as for the December 2 parliamentary election.

Russian authorities invited 400 international observers from various groups and countries to monitor the parliamentary vote, which supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin won.

That was fewer than the number of observers the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe alone sent to monitor the 2003 parliamentary elections. The OSCE canceled monitoring plans for the parliamentary vote after authorities in Moscow restricted it to 70 observers. More than 250 OSCE observers monitored Russia's 2004 presidential election.

Russian election authorities have allowed six people to pursue their candidacy for the March elections, including Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, who was nominated by Mr. Putin's United Russia Party.

The others are Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Liberal Democrat Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Boris Nemtsov of the Union of Right Forces, Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, and Andrei Bogdanov of the Democratic Parity.

Russia's constitution bars Mr. Putin from seeking a third consecutive term.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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