Putin's United Russia seen to win 310 to 315 seats in Duma

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Moscow, Dec 3 (UNI) President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party was seen to win 300 seats in the 450-member State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament.

''If the same trend is maintained as to vote count, United Russia will win about 310 to 315 seats in the State Duma,'' Russian Central Elections Commission secretary Nikolai Konkin told Interfax news agency today.

According to preliminary results, the Communist Party (KPRF) will secure 50 to 60 seats, while the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and Fair Russia will win about 40 to 45 seats each in the State Duma of the new convocation, Mr Konkin said.

United Russia party has, so far, received 63.3 per cent of the vote in yesterday's election to the State Duma, with 85 per cent of the vote counted, the Central Election Commission announced.

According to preliminary data, the Communist Party received 11.7 per cent, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party 8.4 per cent, and Just Russia, led by Kremlin loyalists, received eight per cent of the vote.

No other parties crosed the seven per cent threshold to win seats in the State Duma. The Agrarian Party received 2.4 per cent of votes, Yabloko 1.6 per cent, Civil Force 1.1 per cent, and Union of Right Forces (SPS) one per cent. The other parties scored less than one per cent.

Commenting on results, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said United Russia's success in the parliamentary election was directly connected with Putin's decision to lead its electoral list.

''Objectively, we must link the conditions of success to Putin's being on our list. This is a fact and United Russia must draw conclusions," Luzhkov told reporters at the Moscow Elections Commission headquarters.

The Election Commission today said there was no evidence of violations that could call into question the results of the election.

''So far I see no reasons to doubt the legitimacy of these elections,'' Mr Konkin said.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said all other parties that gained seats in the State Duma were mere helpers of the Kremlin and dismissed the results as rigged.

Mr Zyuganov said the LDPR and Just Russia are ''direct helpers and sidekicks of United Russia.'' ''This is not a parliament, but a branch of the Kremlin, a department of the government,'' RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as saying.

The Communist Party said it was preparing lawsuits to contest the results of the elections, irrespective of how many seats the party wins.

The leader of the liberal Yabloko party Grigory Yavlinsky said the election was plagued by numerous violations.

''During the voting today every legal statute on voting, without exception, was violated,'' Mr Yavlinsky said at a press conference.

However, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, told Russian television he knew of ''no serious violations in the course of polling day.'' Putin has said a strong result would give him the authority to retain political power after his presidential term ends next year possibly as PM.

Mr Putin announced earlier this year that he may seek the office of Prime Minister after his presidential term ends in early March.

The chairman of United Russia party and Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said the election was ''a referendum on President Putin so I think we can say he has won a victory.'' Mr Gryzlov said the party will nominate its candidate for next year's presidential elections at a congress later this month.

Mr Putin is constitutionally obliged to stand down after his second term as President ends in March.

His party's apparent landslide win in yesterday's election will enable him to continue wielding great influence in politics, even if he is no longer in high office.

UNI

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