Russians start voting in regional elections

MOSCOW — On Friday, Russians began voting in the country’s first elections since the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Voters vote to elect more than 31,000 civil servants, legislators and members of local councils in the country’s 82 regions.

Many opposition politicians have been banned from standing for the three-day vote which takes place both at polling stations and online.

The previous use of online voting in last year’s parliamentary elections sparked allegations of voter fraud from the Kremlin’s political enemies. Opposition members have also criticized the extension of voting to three days instead of one day in the past, arguing that the new rules make it more difficult to monitor the election.

While some prominent Russian opposition politicians have been jailed or barred from running for office, more than 100 independent candidates are running for Moscow city councils.

Town councils, the lowest level of local governance with little real power, have become important battlegrounds for opposition politicians cut off from competition in national races.


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