Russia holds first gubernatorial elections in eight years
Russia is holding more than 4,800 local elections on Unified Voting Day on Sunday, with voters directly electing their regional leaders in five of the country's 83 regions for the first time in eight years, RIA Novosti reported.
Russia's return to direct gubernatorial elections starts with the Amur Region in the Russian Far East, the Bryansk and Ryazan Regions in central Russia, the Belgorod Region in the country's west and the Novgorod Region in the country's north.
President Vladimir Putin who returned to the Kremlin in May scrapped direct gubernatorial elections in 2004 in a move seen as a rollback in post-Soviet freedoms. But then President Dmitry Medvedev, who is now Russia's prime minister, brought back the direct elections of governors as part of a raft of reforms pledged after massive nationwide anti-Kremlin protests earlier this year.
Over 100,000 policemen will be involved in the effort to maintain law and order during the voting across Russia, the Interior Ministry said.
"To ensure law and order and public security, over 102,000 police and interior troops, 2,800-strong staff of private security firms and 3,900 representatives of voluntary people's squads, public formations and Cossacks will be involved during the holding of the Unified Voting Day," the ministry said in a statement.