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Putin’s United Russia dominates parliamentary polls

By Xinhua

Moscow : President Vladimir Putin’s party was leading in the Russian parliamentary elections, with more than half the votes counted early Monday.

The United Russia has won 62.9 percent, with 54.6 percent of ballots counted, according to results released by the Central Election Commission.

Putin’s party, which will secure an overwhelming majority in the parliament, will nominate its candidates for next March’s president elections on Dec 17.

Other parties that have cleared the seven-percent threshold to enter the parliament include the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and the Fair Russia.

Boris Gryzlov, leader of the United Russia and also speaker of the lower house of parliament, said President Putin has congratulated the United Russia on its victory.

“Putin congratulated the United Russia on the victory and thanked the State Duma (lower house of parliament) members for their work in the past four years. He said this work is efficient,” Gryzlov was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

Gryzlov said the party would focus on eliminating poverty and raising pensions in the new State Duma.

Putin, who refused to be a party member but led the United Russia in the run-up, has called on the 108 million eligible voters to cast their ballots for the party, saying the elections will set the tune for next March’s presidential election, when he is expected to step down due to constitutional ban on a third continuous term.

Russia’s Communist party, however, has pledged to contest the results.

“I wish to appeal to the government — stop it, you are simply abusing the entire country,” Interfax news agency quoted party leader Gennady Zyuganov as saying at the party headquarters.

Zyuganov accused Russia’s government of manipulating the elections, in which his party has won some 11 percent of votes according to preliminary results, more than the seven percent threshold for entering the State Duma.

“It’s clear already that the results for Siberia and other regions are being manipulated on the basis of schemes agreed in advance,” he said, adding previous polls conducted by his party showed it would gain some 20 percent.

“Our lawyers have already begun preparing a complaint to the Supreme Court to challenge the results of the elections,” Vadim Solovyev, head of the party’s legal office said.

Voting was held in 96,000 polling stations scattered across the vast country from 2000 GMT Saturday in the far eastern region of Kamchatka to 1800 GMT Sunday in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave located between Poland and Lithuania.

Turnout has topped 60 percent, Central Elections Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov said. Turnout was 55.75 percent in the elections of 2003.