More than three quarters of those who took part in Sunday's referendum on the future of the Soviet Union voted in favor of keeping the country together, the head of the referendum commission said Thursday.

Final results showed 76 percent of citizens had voted for the preservation of the country as a renewed federation, Vladimir Orlov told the Supreme Soviet, or national parliament. He said 80 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots."The results of the referendum once again prove the wish of the peoples of the country to live together in a single state," he said. Six of the 15 republics boycotted the vote.

The official results confirmed that President Mikhail Gorbachev had not obtained the overwhelming support he expected for his plan to revitalize the country.

Parliamentary speaker Anatoly Lukyanov told deputies that 58 percent of the 184 million eligible voters had voted to keep the country together.

Most voters in the giant Russian Federation also voted Sunday to create the post of a popularly elected Russian president, a post which would almost certainly fall to Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev's main political rival.

Lukyanov said the decision taken during the referendum was legally binding throughout the Soviet Union and repeated Moscow's line that republics wanting to gain independence would have to follow the guidelines laid down by Soviet law.

His words will be ignored by the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Armenia and Georgia, all set on breaking links with the Kremlin.

Orlov said 75.4 percent of Russian Federation voters had taken part with 71 percent voting to preserve the union. In the Ukraine, the country's second most powerful republic, the figures were 83 and 70 percent respectively.