Russians go to polls to election regional leadership

Other News Materials 1 March 2009 12:50 (UTC +04:00)

Voters in nine semi-autonomous republics and regions in Russia went to the polls Sunday amidst the most difficult economic crisis the country has seen in years, dpa reported.

Despite growing dissatisfaction among the general populous, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party has expressed hopes of winning in all regions.

The opposition meanwhile has complained of widespread electoral violations during the campaign.

The voting took place under a sharply increased security presence following numerous street protests over the past weeks by critics of the government. Around 90,000 extra police personnel have been deployed in the regions.

A total of around 20 million Russian citizens are registered to elect new regional parliaments and governors, the Interfax news agency reported Sunday.

There has been growing public criticism of the government's "inactivity" during the financial crisis. Especially worrying for citizens have been the drastic fall of the rouble, mass unemployment and rising food prices.