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Pro-Kremlin party on track for majority after crackdown on Russian opposition

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MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party was on track to win a strong majority in a parliamentary vote, results showed Monday, after an election that followed an unprecedented crackdown on the opposition.

With 50 percent of votes counted, United Russia was ahead with 46.11% of the vote, followed by the Communist Party with 21.40%.

The vote came in the wake of a clampdown that saw Putin’s best-known domestic foe Alexei Navalny jailed — after he returned to Russia following a poisoning he blames on the Kremlin — and his organizations banned as “extremist.”

In the lead-up to the election, all of Navalny’s top allies were arrested or fled the country, with anyone associated with his groups kept from running.

Navalny’s team had called for opposition supporters to back other candidates who could potentially defeat United Russia, most of them from the Communists, and results indicated the “Smart Voting” campaign may have had some success.

United Russia’s share of the vote was down from 54.2% in the last parliamentary election in 2016, while the Communists saw their support grow from 13.3%.

Voting by party list accounts for only half of the lower house State Duma’s 450 seats, however, and United Russia was dominating in the other half of seats assigned........

© The Times of Israel

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