Russian upper house backs 'compromise' party bill

OSCOW - Legislation that will change Russia's political landscape moved a step closer to reality on Wednesday when the Kremlin-controlled upper house of parliament approved a bill making it easier to register parties.
A concession to long-marginalized politicians who in recent months led the biggest opposition protests in Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule, the bill will enable many more parties to contest elections.
It is one of the few concrete gains for protesters, who failed to prevent Putin from winning a six-year presidential term in a March 4 vote or to force the rerun of a December parliamentary election they said was marred by fraud.
But analysts say Putin, who tightened Kremlin control over electoral politics during his 2000-08 presidency, will seek to ensure no serious challenge emerges from a proliferation of parties.