Russia's far eastern region of Kamchatka first kicked off the country's fifth parliamentary election on Saturday, in which 11 political parties are competing for 450 seats in the State Duma -- the lower house of parliament.
A man walks near an election poster in Moscow Nov. 30, 2007. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Russians in the Kamchatka region went to the polls from 8 a.m. local time on Sunday (2000 GMT) to cast their ballots while the other parts of the Russian territory still have to wait for several hours to vote.
Some 60 percent of the 108 million eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots in 96,000 polling stations including 360 in 141 other countries. The people in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave located between Poland and Lithuania will be the last on the Russian territory to cast their ballots at 1800 GMT on Sunday.
A member of the election commission carries mobile ballot boxes at a polling station in southern Russia's Stavropol Nov. 30, 2007. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
The first overseas polling stations will open in New Zealand at 10 p.m. Moscow time on Saturday (1900 GMT). The last ones will open in Seattle and Los Angeles of the United States.
Some 4,600 candidates have been registered on the federal lists. An average of 10 candidates will contest each seat in the State Duma.
Previous surveys predicted that only four of the 11 parties -- United Russia, the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Just Russia -- could clear the 7 -percent-threshold to enter parliament, and the United Russia party led by President Vladimir Putin will get an overwhelming victory.
The other contending parties are the right-of-center Right Forces Union SPS, Yabloko, the Patriots of Russia, the Democratic Party, the Civil Force Party, the Agrarian Party and the Party of Social Justice.
Three organizations, the Public Opinion Foundation, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center and the Our Elections organization, have been permitted by the CEC to conduct exit polls.
The Public Opinion Foundation President Alexander Oslon said his group plans to question 80,000 people at 800 polling stations in 564 cities, towns and other populated areas in 76 Russian regions for its exit poll Sunday, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Only one question will be asked: for which of the parties they have voted. The final information will be sent to the media at around 9 p.m. Moscow time (1800 GMT) Sunday.
In western Russia, the fifth parliamentary elections began including the capital city of Moscow on Sunday.
The United Russia Party headed by President Vladimir Putin was expected to secure majority.
Putin called on eligible voters to cast their ballots in a TV address last week, saying the elections will set tune for next March's presidential election, when he is expected to step down due to constitutional ban on a third continuous term.
"All the 3,278 polling stations have opened in Moscow exactly at 8:00 a.m.," said a source at the Moscow city election commission.
Of the 10.4 million residents in the largest voting area, some 7 million are registered voters. President Putin himself is also expected to cast his ballot Sunday morning.
Some 60 percent of the 108 million eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots in 96,000 polling stations, including 360 in 141 other countries.
The people in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave located between Poland and Lithuania, will be the last on the Russian territory to cast their ballots at 1800 GMT on Sunday.
(Xinhua News Agency December 2, 2007)