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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grachev on Defensive

MOSCOW () -- Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, who came under fire for his report that Russian sailors casting early election ballots had voted for incumbent Boris Yeltsin, said Wednesday that servicemen had been voting honestly and fairly since the beginning of June, Interfax reported.

But Grachev repeated his conviction that the sailors had voted for Yeltsin. "I would say it looks as though most of the crew gave their votes to Boris Yeltsin," he said. "As for any speculation on the fairness of this voting, it can be based on the declarations of the sailors themselves on the rights of each voter. In cramped quarters and compartments, sailors feel like part of one family and talk sincerely about everything, including the elections."

A preliminary examination by the Central Election Commission showed there had been no violation of the secret ballot on the high seas, commission Chairman Nikolai Ryabov told Interfax.

Ryabov said that if Grachev believes his personnel will vote for one or another candidate, this is his personal affair, but he added that as an official, Grachev should refrain from making such statements.