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Pro-Putin party wins big majority in Russian elections

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The results mean the ruling party is on track to win 343 seats or 76 percent of 450 available seats in Russia's Duma.

Election officials said that turnout was almost 48 percent, substantially lower than the 60 percent turnout at the last parliamentary election.

Zyuganov was outraged that LDPR could potentially beat his party in the vote, and accused United Russia of siding with LDPR to secure an absolute majority.

United Russia, led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a loyalist of President Putin, now has 238 of 450 Duma seats and dominates the more than 80 regional parliaments.

The Communist party was in second place with 13.5 percent of the vote, outstripping the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democrats on 13.3 percent.

Polls show United Russia's popularity has been somewhat dented by a grinding economic crisis caused by a fall in global oil prices and compounded by Western sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis.

People choose stability and trust in government by voting for the governing United Russia party in the face of risks and difficulties, Putin said.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesperson, told reporters that the "overwhelming majority" of voters had come out for Putin, handing him what he called "an impressive vote of confidence". She said she did not expect the results to change significantly in the count of the remaining ballots.

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Looming large over this election was the spectre of mass protests over vote-rigging following the last legislative polls in 2011, which grew into the biggest challenge to Putin since he took charge in 2000.

Putin praised the results of the State Duma election, saying Monday that they showed "how our citizens reacted to attempts at external pressure on Russian Federation, threats of sanctions, attempts to destabilize the situation in our country from within". "Opposition parties attracted minimal support".

It was widely expected that Putin's party would win.

He said in an interview with Bloomberg before the election that it was too early to speak about Russia's presidential race since a lot depends on the outcome of the Duma vote.

The CEC chair said some 264,000 observers were present at the polling stations throughout the country, including global observers, who in general say that the voting went smoothly.

"This is not surprising although the authorities promised and swore it to be the most fair, the best election", he said.

Grigory Melkonyants, co-chairman of the election monitoring group Golos, said the busloads of people may not be a violation, "But observers perceive it as a trick which local officials could be using in order to boost the turnout in their districts", he told the Associated Press.

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