Russia to go for par elections on Dec 2

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Moscow, Dec 1: Russian voters will exercise their franchise in the country to elect a new State Duma, the lower house of parliament tomorrow.

The campaigning for the parliamentary elections ended yesterday and today a 'Silence Day' was being observed throughout the country, a time when all campaigning was banned.

The new, 5th State Duma is set to meet for its first session after the elections on December 25-28.

The 450-member State Duma was currently dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party which is expected to win an overwhelming majority in tomorrow's elections.

Eleven political parties have been registered with the Russian Central Election Commission to participate in the elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is heading the United Russia party list for the Duma, a move which has all but guaranteed it a resounding victory.

The only other parties expected to overcome the necessary 7% threshold at the elections are the Communist Party and the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, public opinion polls say.

Ninety-six thousand polling stations have been made for the voters to exercise their franchise for the parliamentary elections.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) election watchdog (ODIHR) earlier announced that it would not send observers to monitor the parliamentary elections due to what it called ''unprecedented'' restrictions. It also told Russia that its monitors had been ''continuously denied entry visas into Russia.'' The OSCE's presence at elections was seen as vital by most Western governments.

Earlier this week, President Putin accused the United States of putting pressure on the OSCE for not sending the observers to Russia, which was denied by Washington.


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