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You're reading: Russian local elections test Putin’s grip
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The ruling United Russia party was expected to win most of nearly 5,000 contests despite disaffection that cost it dozens of national parliament seats in a December vote and helped spark the biggest opposition protests of Putin’s 12-year rule.

Opponents accused the Kremlin of using its position to give favoured candidates an unfair advantage by removing potential competitors from races and pressuring state employees. It also alleged violations including multiple voting.

The votes included ballots for regional governors in five of Russia’s 83 provinces, the first since the Kremlin restored popular elections of regional chiefs, which Putin had scrapped as he tightened control during his 2000-2008 presidency.

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