Moscow votes, Kremlin seen cementing control
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Muscovites voted on Sunday in a city
council election which polls show is likely to cement the
Kremlin’s control over the capital and Russian political life.
United Russia, which pledges loyalty to President Vladimir
Putin, is expected to take most of the 35 city council seats.
A nationalist party, Rodina (Motherland), which opinion
polls suggested had the most hope of denting United Russia’s
win, was banned from the race after a campaign advertisement
that judges said incited racism.
The problem of illegal immigration has played a key part in
the election campaign with emotive calls to clean up the city,
whose shadow economy is dominated by migrant workers.
Mayor Yuri Luzhkov will step down in 2007 and the city
council will have a say in who will then run Moscow, a city of
both ostentatious wealth and poverty.
“Moscow is a whole state in itself and the atmosphere in
the whole country depends on the situation in Moscow,” Gennady
Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party, said after voting, RIA
Of 35 seats on the council, 20 are elected on party lists.
At least 20 percent of the 6.9 million registered voters must
take part for the election to be valid.
Polling stations close at 8:00 p.m. (1700 GMT).