Russians voted for a new parliament on Sunday, in an election that is being widely viewed as a referendum on the personal future of President Vladimir Putin.
“The past eight years has been the best time in my life, so I’m supporting Putin’s party,” said Valentina Zhukova, a 40-year old accountant who voted in Moscow.
Putin, who is required to leave the the top post following presidential elections slated for March 2, is running as lead candidate for the United Russia party, the pro-Kremlin juggernaut that surveys suggest will win up to two-thirds of the votes.
If UR achieves the expected two-thirds majority, it may enable Putin to carve out a powerful post-presidential career for himself, perhaps as Prime Minister or Speaker of Parliament, or some as-yet unstated capacity, experts say.
Over 100 million Russians across 11 time zones are eligible to vote, but some public opinion surveys suggested high levels of apathy might result in a turnout of 50 per cent or less.