Local and regional elections across Russia today are being seen as a test of whether President Dmitri Medvedev has made any progress on the democratic front.
Seventy five of Russia’s 83 regions are voting but the main focus will be on Moscow, where long-serving Mayor Yury Luzhkov is accused by the Kremlin of failing to open up the vote to more parties. Medvedev said back in August that “new democratic times are beginning” in Russia but many of his critics insist the country is even further from a multi-party system than it was under Medvedev’s predecessor Vladimir Putin. On the streets of Moscow, the only posters to be seen are those of Putin’s dominant United Russia party. Of the five other parties on the list in the capital, three are pro-Kremlin. The only pro-Western party there, Yabloko, is forecast to lose both its council seats and its leader accuses authorities of blocking access to media and street advertising.