Moscow: Russia’s dominant United Russia party won its first electoral test during the economic crisis, according to provisional results for regional assemblies issued on Monday.
The poll, already condemned for manipulation by opposition parties, marks the Kremlin’s first electoral test since the economic crisis hit Russia last year.
Millions of Russians have lost their jobs and the rouble has slumped against the dollar in the crisis, ending a 10-year boom which underpinned support for president Dmitry Medvedev and his powerful prime minister, Vladimir Putin.
United Russia, headed by Putin, polled between 49% and 79% in the nine local assemblies contested, with a large majority of ballots counted, the central electoral commission press service told Reuters.
The opposition Communist party came in a distant second place. The pro-Kremlin Liberal Democrats and Fair Russia were also set to win seats in assemblies, though it was not immediately clear who came in third place.
The Kremlin created United Russia during Putin’s 2000-2008 term as president as its main political machine. It already dominates the national parliament and media.
In addition to the regional votes, there are 3,600 separate elections taking place across the country for the mayors of some major towns and the bulk of the town and village councils.
Neither Putin nor Medvedev are directly involved in the polls and the country’s two biggest cities, Moscow and St Petersburg, did not vote. Around 20 million Russians out of a 142 million population were eligible to cast their ballots.