Las Vegas Review-Journal

Pro-kremlin party leads in early results

- By Jim Heintz and Daria Litvinova

Early results Sunday in Russia’s parliament­ary election showed the dominant pro-kremlin party well in the lead, but it was unclear if the party will retain the two-thirds majority of seats that allow it to change the constituti­on.

The election is seen as an important part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to cement his grip on power ahead of the 2024 presidenti­al election, in which control of the State Duma, or parliament, will be key.

Results from about 30 percent of the country’s polling stations gave the pro-kremlin United Russia party 45 percent of the vote for the 225 deputies apportione­d by party lists, according to the elections commission. Another 225 lawmakers will be chosen by individual races, and the elections commission said early results showed United Russia candidates leading in 179 of those single-constituen­cy seats.

The election Sunday lacked significan­t opposition presence after Russian authoritie­s declared organizati­ons linked to imprisoned Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent foe, to be extremist. The voting was also marred by numerous reports of violations.

The early results showed three other parties that almost always support Putin returning to the State Duma, as well as the New People party, which was formed last year and is regarded by many as a Kremlin-sponsored project.

The Communist Party received about 22 percent of the party-list vote, a sizeable improvemen­t from the 13 percent it got in the last election in 2016. United Russia got about 54 percent five years ago, so the early results indicate a substantia­l falloff in support.

Ahead of the election, Putin expressed hope that the United Russia party would retain its dominance in the parliament.

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