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Medvedev Concedes Voting Irregularities

President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that irregularities had occurred in the disputed Oct. 11 vote and said he would include several proposals on elections in his state-of-the-nation address.

Medvedev also told Central Elections Commission chief Vladimir Churov to review the irregularities and make sure that complaints of vote rigging were heard in court.

“Problems that have taken place, irregularities that were found, should be taken into consideration in the further work of the Central Elections Commission,” Medvedev told Churov during a meeting at the presidential Gorki residence outside Moscow, according to a transcript on the Kremlin web site.

“It is your direct responsibility to provide an opportunity for parties to go to court,” Medvedev added.

Opposition parties and independent election observers have complained of massive fraud in the elections, which were held in 75 of Russia’s 83 regions and were swept by United Russia. In Moscow, United Russia won 32 of the 35 seats in the City Duma, with the rest going to the Communists.

In one documented instance of outright fraud, Yabloko, which had two seats in the previous City Duma, not only failed to win any seats but also received zero votes at the polling station where its leader, Sergei Mitrokhin, and his family cast their ballots.

“The Central Elections Commission should take into account all the problems, all the hitches, that were revealed,” Medvedev told Churov.

Churov, a former Liberal Democratic Party deputy who has led the commission since March 2007, showed Medvedev a thick binder of documents outlining his commission’s work on the complaints. He said 196 complaints have been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office and that several dozen cases have been forwarded to court.

Churov also said he would meet with leaders from seven political parties Nov. 24 to discuss what lessons could be learned from the elections in order to avoid a repeat in the next nationwide vote. Under the law, nationwide elections are held twice a year, on specially allotted days in March and October.

Medvedev said he would make suggestions on how to improve electoral law in his state-of-the-nation address, which is expected to be delivered in early November. Medvedev gave no details but told Churov that the elections commission should listen carefully and take his suggestions to heart.

The president reiterated that he might consider amendments to the current election law, a statement that he also made to the State Duma’s three opposition parties during a meeting about the disputed vote Saturday.

Leaders of the Communist Party and the LDPR have demanded Churov’s dismissal because of this month’s elections.

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