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An independent Russian election monitor has slammed the country's electoral authorities in a commentary for the "Nezavisimaya gazeta" newspaper.

Andrei Buzin, chairman the Interregional Association of Voters and a member of the Moscow City Election Commission, calls the recent presidential election "a national spectacle." Buzin says when he told one election official about "gross violations" taking place at his polling station, the official responded simply, "Have some tea!" He claims monitors were chastened not to "spoil the electorate's mood."

Buzin points out that the Central Election Commission had dismissed all of the more than 200 complaints filed about the March 2 vote within five days. Clearly, no one was out to spoil the monitors' moods. Buzin cites a report from one official election monitor who says that during the March 2 voting "at each polling station a special room had been set up for the observers where officials provided a buffet and six bottles of beer, a bottle of cognac, a bottle of vodka, and a bottle of red wine. I saw this at all three polling stations, all of which were located in schools."

-- Rob Coalson

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