Putin party eyes landslide in parliament vote

Pollsters say Putin's United Russia party will win an overwhelming victory and secure more than 60 percent of seats.

Putin party eyes landslide in parliament vote
Russians voted on Sunday in a parliamentary election widely viewed as a referendum on President Vladimir Putin and overshadowed by opposition accusations that pro-Kremlin forces enjoy unfair advantage.

Pollsters say Putin's United Russia party will win an overwhelming victory and secure more than 60 percent of seats. More than 100 million Russians are eligible to vote in the election, which is being held sub-zero winter temperatures.

"I voted for Putin," 68-year-old pensioner Valentin Nenashev said after casting the first ballot at polling station No. 130 in Vladivostok, Russia's gateway to the Pacific and a naval base. "I voted for a better life, for stability."

Putin, 55, is by far Russia's most popular politician after presiding over eight years of an economic boom. He aims to retain influence after stepping down as president in early 2008 and says a strong mandate from voters will give him that right.

The first of about 96,000 polling stations across the sprawling nation opened in the northeastern province of Chukotka facing Alaska. Nine hours later, at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT), the first voters began turning out in the capital Moscow.

In the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals, election organisers created a holiday atmosphere redolent of Soviet-era polls and sought to maximise turnout by relaxing a requirement that voters have a registered address.

"For the first time tramps are going to vote here," said a cashier at the city centre bus station as announcements over the tannoy urged travellers to cast their ballots.

Increasingly marginalised opposition parties have said numerous election rule changes, heavily skewed media coverage, repeated instances of government pressure on voters and Putin's own campaigning have made the contest unfair.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Aralık 2007, 18:37
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