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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Observers Cite Irregularities But Declare Vote 'Accurate'

International observers criticized Russia's presidential elections Tuesday for a series of irregularities, but stressed that the results of the first round of voting are not in question.

Reading from a prepared report, Michael Meadowcroft, coordinator of the 500-member mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, said observers had detected a widespread lack of secrecy in voting across Russia.

The shortage of polling booths -- most stations had only three -- meant voters were forced to mark their ballots at uncurtained tables, Meadowcroft said.

The report also found that voters were often accompanied into booths by relatives, or in some cases by Yeltsin supporters working as election observers.

The Communist Party also managed to slip in some last-minute voter appeals, the report said. Ballot boxes in a station in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast bore the hammer and sickle party symbol.

In Tatarstan, voters with several passports were allowed to mark ballots for those who had not come to vote. And the mobile ballot box -- for voters physically unable to leave their homes -- collected a surprising 10 percent of all votes in some parts of Tver region, northwest of Moscow, the OSCE found.

Echoing criticism by other international observers, Meadowcroft also blasted the Russian media for reducing the campaign to a "two-horse race" with candidates other than Yeltsin and Zyuganov left out in the cold.

A "significant imbalance" of television campaign coverage in favor of Yeltsin was detected in terms of both news time and topics and frequency of attractive facial shots, he added.

Public officials also came under fire for using taxpayers' money to finance events that "clearly assisted candidate Yeltsin's campaign."

But despite such violations, the report stated that the OSCE "believes that the results so far declared accurately reflect the wishes of the voters on the day."

and that the election strengthened the "democratic process."

The mission expects to have 200 observers on hand nationwide for the second round of election voting.

. Around St. Petersburg some stations did not have any voting booths at all

," while other candidates were often denied permission to use public buildings for campaign purposes