The ruling United Russia party won elections around the country on Sunday, early results showed, but opponents alleged widespread violations in the voting that will preserve President Vladimir Putin’s dominance. The first big elections since Putin began a new six-year term in May will do little to appease opponents who say he has used election fraud and suppression of dissent to maintain his grip on power. Results from contests from the Baltic Sea to Kamchatka on the Pacific Ocean showed United Russia had won or was heading for victory in all five provincial governorship races, and in several votes for provincial and city legislatures.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, to whom Putin handed the chairmanship of United Russia after they swapped jobs, said the ruling party had done better than in a December parliamentary election in which it lost dozens of seats.
Charges of fraud in that election brought tens of thousands of people into the streets of Moscow for the biggest opposition protests of Putin’s 12-year rule, but he won the presidency in March despite the demonstrations. “I’ll put it frankly: United Russia has made a strong showing, stronger than in the December Duma election,” Medvedev said at the United Russia headquarters in Moscow based on results from eastern regions, Russian news agencies reported.