Polls close in Russia's parliamentary election after last ballots cast in westernmost Kaliningrad region

A three-day-long voting period in Russia's parliamentary election concluded on Sunday evening, with the overall turnout standing at 45.15% as of 15:00 GMT, according to the country's Central Election Commission.

The last polling stations closed at 20:00 local time (6pm GMT) in the Kaliningrad Region, Russia's westernmost enclave territory on the Baltic Sea.

A total of 14 parties contested the parliamentary race, including the four political powerhouses that made up the previous convocation of the State Duma – United Russia, the Communist Party (CPRF), the Liberal Democrats (LDPR) and Fair Russia.

The ruling United Russia party, which supports the policies of President Vladimir Putin, has entered the vote as the favorite despite a loss of popularity in recent years. It has been the largest political force in the country since 2003 and held a majority of 343 seats in the last parliament.

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Voting got underway since Friday. The window was expanded from one to three days on this occasion due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the measure aimed at preventing overcrowding at polling stations. As Central Election Commission head Ella Pamfilova put it, "the main goal is to preserve the health of our citizens."

Residents of Moscow and six other regions were also offered the option of casting their votes online. The electronic voting system, which uses blockchain technology to assure safety and transparency of the electoral process, was being used for the first time at such a high-level election.

A total of 450 seats in the eighth convocation of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, are up for grabs. Half of those seats are elected through legislative constituencies and the other through party lists. In order to be represented in parliament, a party needs to pass the 5% threshold.

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According to the Central Election Commission, more than 108 million people inside the country and almost 2.5 million Russians abroad were illegible to take part in the election. Those in foreign countries could cast their ballots at polling stations, organized at Russian embassies and consulates.

The ballot count started at the polling stations immediately after they closed their doors. Preliminary results are already available, but the official outcome of the election is to be announced by the Central Election Commission no later than in two weeks' time.

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