Elections Chief Acknowledges Violations

Central Elections Commission chief Vladimir Churov said Tuesday that his commission was aware of "blatant" incidents of students and employees being pressured to vote in Sunday's presidential election.

"Unfortunately, administrators at various levels -- from dormitory supervisors to heads of large companies -- have their own understanding of the meaning of the phrase 'awareness creation,'" Churov told a news conference, Itar-Tass reported.

Alexander Kynev, deputy head of Golos, the only independent Russian election monitoring group, told reporters Monday that his organization was contacted by students complaining that they had been threatened with eviction from their dormitories if they did not vote.

Several voters called Golos' hotline and said they were forced to obtain absentee ballots and vote at polling stations set up on their work premises, he added.

Churov said he had information that students living in dormitories were threatened with being moved to a worse room if they did not vote.

"We will aggressively fight incidents of this nature," Churov said.

Election officials will also investigate media reports that Leningrad region Governor Valery Serdyukov had developed a plan to identify voters who did not cast their ballots and have officials meet with them.