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Russia Protesters End Blockade

September 26, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Demonstrators blocking a government building in a volatile southern Russian region for five days lifted their blockade Sunday after officials threatened to disperse them by force, a news agency reported.

The demonstrators were protesting the inauguration of Vladimir Semyonov as president of the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region earlier this month and are demanding cancellation of the election that put him in office, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.

The protesters lifted their blockade after he warning by regional Interior Minister Alexander Vokkodav, but said they had permission to continue to picket in the capital, Cherkessk. Rem Tatarshao, a protest leader, said the demonstrators will remain in downtown Cherkessk until their demands are met, ITAR-Tass said.

Semyonov won by a landslide in a May 16 vote that was tainted by allegations of voter fraud. The loser, Cherkessk Mayor Stanislav Derev, never conceded defeat, but Semyonov refused a recount.

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