Russia votes; country yawns

Russia held regional elections yesterday, but no one has paid much attention. Elections have become little more than a formality here (often overlooked fact: the Soviet Union held regular elections too).

As expected, the ruling United Russia party did really well. Also as expected, NGOs and opposition groups complained of widespread fraud.

There were a couple of interesting results though. In the Kirov region, United Russia lost to the Communists, taking 29 percent to their 34 percent. In Tver, United Russia brought in only 39 percent (the Communists took 24.7 percent, Kremlin-friendly A Just Russia got 21.3 percent and the nationalist LDPR took 11 percent). In Kaliningrad, the man who organized the exclave's mass opposition meetings last year won a spot in the local parliament, taking 31.59 percent of the vote (compared to the United Russia candidate's 19.88 percent). Overall, the Party took 44 percent of the vote in Kaliningrad (the Communists again trailed with 20 percent). The low numbers in these regions will be cause for concern for the Party as it prepares for parliamentary elections later this year.