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New Russian Elections Chief Calls Off Vote Said Marred By Fraud

Ella Pamfilova, the head of Russia's Central Election Commission, called off an election in a Moscow suburb amid charges of fraud.

The new chief of the Russian Election Commission has responded to allegations of fraud in an election in a Moscow suburb and called off the vote.

Ella Pamfilova cited concern about widespread early voting in the legislative election in the village of Barvikha, although she stopped short of calling it fraud.

Hours after her announcement on April 20, local authorities officially canceled the election originally scheduled for April 24.

The decision came a day after four candidates who are associates of anticorruption crusader Aleksei Navalny announced they were withdrawing from the election because of fraud during early voting.

The candidates documented hundreds of people with recent voter registration who were bused to the village to vote. The number of people who turned out to vote could be equivalent to 30 percent of the possible turnout, they said.

Navalny welcomed the election commission's decision, which he said was a result of his allies' boycott.

"It was a right political decision to demand the election be scrapped," he said on his blog. "No one believed it would be possible except us, and our guys did it."

Navalny's candidates got registered to run after Pamfilova, a former presidential human rights ombudsman, was appointed last month in a possible sign of the Kremlin's willingness to clean up elections. They said their goal was to test whether she would be willing to prevent election fraud.

Alleged vote rigging in the 2011 parliamentary elections under the previous commission chairman Vladimir Churov triggered the biggest antigovernment protests in a decade.

Under Churov, seemingly clear cases of election fraud often were accompanied by authorities refusing to register independent candidates for spurious reasons.

With reporting by AP and Interfax
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