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PUTIN VOWS RATIFICATION OF NUCLEAR ARMS PACT

Riding moderates' success in parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised Wednesday to push ratification of the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty and long-stalled economic reforms through the Russian parliament.

"We will introduce bills which haven't been passed by the previous parliament," Putin said during a video hookup between Moscow and New York at the opening of a new media center. "I mean, among others, the START II treaty."

President Boris Yeltsin's government has long urged parliament to ratify the 1993 treaty, which would halve U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads each. The treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1996, but the Communists and other hard-liners have balked, saying the pact hurts Russian security.

The parliamentary elections on Sunday appear to have ended Communist control of the house, the State Duma. Communists will remain the largest faction, but they are expected to lose their dominance to the centrist parties.

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