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Russia's Putin Eyes Election Next Year, Vows to Prosecute Vote Violations

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) listens to Ella Pamfilova, head of Russian Central Election Commission during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 9, 2017.

The head of Russia's central election commission urged President Vladimir Putin on Monday to ensure all investigations intoelection violations detected in Russia last month were completed, and the Kremlin leader promised to do so.

Russia voted in local elections in many regions on September 10 in what was widely seen as a dress rehearsal for next year's presidential vote, with Kremlin-backed candidates for regional parliaments and governorships performing strongly.

Putin is the strong favorite to win re-election in March, although he has so far declined to say if he will run.

On September 10, Reuters reporters observed the vote at six polling stations. In all six, they found discrepancies, of varying sizes, between the official vote tally and the number of voters the reporters counted.

"We have practically tied up many 'loose ends' of that campaign, but small 'ends' still remain," Russian media quoted Ella Pamfilova, head of the central election commission, as telling Putin at a meeting in the Kremlin.

"I really would like our prosecutor general's office and the investigative committee to bring the matter to completion in a number of cases," she said, referring to inquiries into local election violations.

She did not elaborate.

"All orders will be given regarding this issue," Putin replied.

Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Richard Balmforth.