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Putin foes get a drubbing in key Moscow suburb vote

RUSSIA: The pro-Kremlin candidate was declared winner Monday in a poll on the outskirts of Moscow that was embraced by the opposition as a chance to lodge a high-profile presence near the seat of Russian power.

The Khimki District vote on the northwestern edge of Moscow was one of a slate conduced Sunday across Russia for the first time since President Vladimir Putin was overwhelmingly swept to power for a third term in March.

The ruling United Russia party that Putin founded and which is now headed by his premier and predecessor Dmitry Medvedev was leading most of the races despite sporadic reports of violations by the candidates and observers.

The Khimki election was of particular interest to the opposition because the Moscow suburb was the site of months of protests against the destruction of part of a forest to build a new Kremlin-backed road.

Those well-organised but at times violent standoffs spawned a new generation of anti-Kremlin leaders who later spearheaded the broader swell of street discontent that rose against Putin last winter.

The opposition has been trying to maintain traction since Putinís return but has suffered from periodically flagging attendance at protest rallies and the blow of new Kremlin legislation limiting their rights.

AFP

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