VLADIVOSTOK, Russia - Vladimir Putin's ruling party could see its vast parliamentary majority cut back in elections that began on Sunday in the icy tundra and sparsely-populated swathes of Russia's far east.
At polling stations from the Arctic to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the election will indicate the scope of fatigue with Putin's 12-year rule just three months before he asks voters to endorse his return to the Kremlin as president.Russians interviewed by Reuters across the world's biggest country gave a mixed picture. Some expressed disgust with a parliamentary election they said was likely to be rigged while others said they supported Putin and his United Russia party.
"I support United Russia. I like Putin. He is the strong leader we need in our country," said Nikolai, a 33-year-old customs officer in Vladivostok, a port city of 600,000 people on the Pacific and the biggest city in Russia's Far East.