This article is from the source 'bbc' and was first published or seen on . It will not be checked again for changes.

You can find the current article at its original source at

The article has changed 5 times. There is an RSS feed of changes available.

Version 3 Version 4
Kremlin parties lead Russian poll Kremlin parties lead Russian vote
(1 day later)
Russians have voted in regional elections that are widely considered a rehearsal for forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. Preliminary results from Sunday's regional elections in Russia indicate that pro-Kremlin parties have won in all 14 regions holding a vote.
Exit polls suggested that United Russia, backed by President Putin, was leading in 10 of the 14 regions. United Russia, backed by President Vladimir Putin, is leading in 13 regions, while a new pro-Putin party, A Fair Russia, leads in the other region.
The new Kremlin-supported Just Russia party appeared to have a strong showing in one region, taking half the votes. The elections are widely considered a rehearsal for upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
Opposition parties said they had been sidelined and dubbed the polls an illegitimate sham. Opposition parties said they had been sidelined and dubbed the polls a sham.
Control The chairman of the Central Election Commission, Alexander Veshnyakov, said the preliminary results indicated that United Russia had won an average of 46% of the votes across the 14 regions.
"We do not recognised as legitimate either these elections not the parliament elected today," said Maxim Reznik, the chairman of the Yabloko party, blocked from fielding candidates in the St Petersburg region. Only in the southern region of Stavropol did A Fair Russia get more votes. However, the complex system there means that United Russia may end up with more seats in the regional assembly.
The ballots are the first in a year of elections that critics say are organised to ensure that President Vladimir Putin retains control. 'Managed democracy'
Mr Putin is expected to step down in 2008 but he has hinted he will choose the person who will replace him. A Fair Russia was formed late last year with the Kremlin's support as a means, officials said, to strengthen Russia's multi-party system.
Some 31 million voters, about a third of the country's electorate, had a choice of two mainstream parties and a number of smaller ones in the elections in 14 of the country's 86 regions. Critics have said the party was created to foster the illusion of democracy in Russia.
"The main result of the elections is that United Russia has remained the leading party of Russia. It had no rivals in the majority of regions," Valery Fyodorov of the Kremlin-linked polling centre said. Election officials said the Communist Party had secured 12.5% of the seats in the regional assemblies while A Fair Russia was close behind with 11.7%.
But Just Russia, a party which supports Putin but presents itself as an alternative to United Russia, gained some 40% of votes in the Stavropol region. Turnout was 39.1% of the 14 regions' 31 million eligible voters - about one-third of Russia's total electorate.
Grigoriy Yavlinsky's Yabloko party was barred from some regions"This is managed democracy," said Sergei Ivanyenko, deputy leader of the liberal Yabloko party.
Yabloko was barred from contesting four of the nine races it wanted to enter because it had failed to meet tough new election criteria. It had a poor showing in the other five regions.
Mr Ivanyenko said they were elections in name only "which look like democracy but where in fact the authorities hand out votes and determine which parties and candidates are convenient for them," he told Reuters news agency.
The vote was the first test of new electoral laws introduced last year.
The minimum threshold of the vote a party needs to secure seats was raised; the minimum voter turnout for elections to be valid was lowered; and the "against all" option on ballot papers was eliminated.
The BBC's Russian affairs analyst Steven Eke says the overall result was to halve the number of political parties registered in Russia and to destroy any possibility of the smaller, liberal opposition parties having their candidates elected.
The Russian government says it wanted to create a more efficient system based on two or three parties.
Opponents of the changes say they were designed to ensure the Kremlin maintains control over the country's electoral system ahead of parliamentary elections later this year and a vote to choose a successor to Mr Putin next year.