Russians go to polls to elect parliament

Voting in Russia’s parliamentary elections to the lower house of parliament or State Duma commenced on Sunday with far eastern regions of the country voting first.

Citizens in the Far East and Eastern Siberia have already started casting their ballots and will be followed elsewhere as Sunday falls across Russia’s nine time zones.

Witnesses in the city of Khabarovsk in the Far East say that despite the early hour there are a lot of voters at the ballot stations.

According to the Election Commission, voters from northern regions of Russia`s Far East are voting more actively than in the parliamentary elections of 2007. The commission also says that “the elections are taking place in a quiet atmosphere” and that no violations have been reported so far.

However, Russia’s major monitoring group “Golos” has claimed that some of its observers were not allowed into several polling stations in the city of Tomsk, Western Siberia. According to “Golos” the Election Commission representatives at the stations say they have been instructed by telephone not to allow “Golos” observers in.

­There have also been reports that an office of Russia’s ruling United Russia Party has been attacked in the Western city of Bryansk. According to the party’s official website, unidentified attackers hurled Molotov cocktails into the building, setting it on fire. Police and have firefighters arrived at the scene, the website says.

­The main intrigue of the 2011 parliamentary elections is whether the ruling United Russia Party manages to retain its majority in the Duma.

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