MOSCOW - Russia said on Thursday observers had found the Syrian presidential election in which Bashar al-Assad retained power to have been fair, free and transparent, and criticised the reaction of nations that denounced the vote.

"Moscow sees the vote as an important event that safeguards the continued functioning of state institutions in Syria," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. He said the "politicised reaction" of some nations "cannot fail to cause disillusionment".

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