1. KREMLIN

    Russia Holds Gubernatorial Votes

    A woman prepares to vote in the local elections in town of Khimki outside Moscow on October 14, 2012. Russians went to the polls today to elect regional governors and mayors in key cities in the first such vote since President Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin. Voters went to the polls to elect different layers of local and regional government in almost all the country's regions, with the largest cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg among the few not to be holding any polls. AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/GettyImages)

    Kirill Kudryavtsev, AFP / Getty Images

    Russians headed to the polls Sunday for the first electoral test of Vladimir Putin’s power since he retook the presidency. The round of gubernatorial elections—the first for the country in eight years—comes amid a downturn in approval ratings for Putin, who repealed a ban on the election of governors after massive protests last year. Polls taken by the Civil Society Development Fund showed candidates backed by the ruling United Russia party leading in all five contested gubernatorial districts, though some mayoral and other local races looked ripe for the opposition’s picking.

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