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The discharge characteristics of the main electrode both in low‐voltage and in high‐voltage regimes at 1 atm pressure are described. The number of initial electrons effective in the main gap discharge depend on the polarity of the main electrode. The photoemission of the electrons from the cathode situated near the uv source is very large and accounts for about 70 –80% of the total electrons. Also described is the influence of additive gas on both the electrical discharge and laser output power.