Russia starts regional elections

08:54, March 15, 2010      

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Some 32 million Russians, or one third of the total voters, went to the polls in Sunday's regional and local elections.

So far no violations have been registered in some 31,000 polling stations across Russia, said Leonid Ivlev, Deputy Chairman of Russian Central Elections Commission.

In total, about 6,200 elections of various levels were being held, including parliamentary elections in eight Russian regions.

By 2 p.m. local time (0700 GMT) in Khabarovsk Territory of Russia's Far East, the voter turnout reached 25.31 percent, 5 percentage points more compared with that of the same period during the 2005 local parliamentary elections.

In these rather competitive elections, seven candidates on average would run for one seat in regional legislatures, while four candidates in municipal legislatures.

The political parties that have seats in Russia's lower house of the parliament, including the ruling United Russia party, the A Just Russia party and Liberal Democrats and Communists were participating in all levels of elections.

They have to reach the 7-percent threshold to be elected to regional legislatures, with the exception of the Republic of Altai where the threshold is 5 percent.

Voting started at 8 a.m. local time and is scheduled to finish at 8 p.m. And the Central Elections Commission will announce the preliminary results after 8 p.m. Moscow time (1700 GMT) on Sunday.

Some 80,000 police have been deployed for the elections, said the Interior Ministry.

To facilitate media coverage, the Central Elections Commission has set up a press center, which has already attracted over 300 domestic and foreign journalists.

The elections have been seen as a test to the popularity of the ruling United Russia party as the country suffered from heavy blows of the global economic downturn.

The pro-Kremlin United Russia party swept through last October's elections by winning over half of the ballots in many regions.

Source: Xinhua
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