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Russian elections chief sees no major problems with Kyrgyz vote

RIA Novosti

20:37 27/06/2010 MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian election monitors have not observed any major violations during Kyrgyzstan's referendum on a new constitution on Sunday, Russia's top election official told RIA Novosti by telephone from Osh.

Vladimir Churov, the head of Russia's Central Election Commission, said he had visited polling stations in Osh and the nearby town of Aravan.

Sunday's referendum followed several days of ethnic violence in the south of the country earlier in the month and 7,500 police were deployed to ensure security during the poll, which officials said passed off with no major disturbances.

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva said after polls closed that the proposed changes to the constitution had been adopted, meaning the country will become a parliamentary republic with a reduced the role for the president.

Churov said the atmosphere in Osh was very different to that in Aravan, about 25 km (15 miles) away.

In the smaller town, the Russian official said there was great enthusiasm for the referendum, while in Osh some people were still afraid to travel to polling stations.

"The impact of what happened in Osh will long be felt, but we [the observers] are feeling at ease here," Churov said.

He said the main problem they had observed was a lack of information about the referendum at some polling stations.

"Some sites lacked information about the referendum and the constitution," he said. "In some parts of Osh at the polling stations we saw only one or two copies of papers [with information about the referendum and the constitution]. And they were not as expected in the Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian languages, but only in one - Russian or Kyrgyz."

Churov said he would travel to Bishkek later on Sunday for discussions with other international monitors on the conduct of the referendum.

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