Russia’s parliamentary election is off and running. Polls are now open in five time zones in the countryâ€™s eastern regions, including Chukotka, Kamchatka and the port city of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. 11 parties are competing for 450 State Duma seats.There are eleven time zones in the country, which means a phased opening of polling stations, of which there are around 49,000 across the nation.
In Russiaâ€™s coal heartland, in Western Siberiaâ€™s Kemerovo region, 130 polling stations have opened two hours earlier than scheduled. That is done in order to let factory workers cast their ballots before their shifts begin.
The Far Eastern city of Vladivostok has become the first major Russian city to begin voting. About 9,300 kilometres from Moscow, it is the largest countryâ€™s port on the Pacific Ocean and the capital of Primorsky Krai, or â€˜Maritime provinceâ€™.The city’s main industries are shipping and commercial fishing. Also, itâ€™s the home port of the Russian Pacific Fleet and Navy sailors were among the first to come to the polling stations to cast their ballots.
Anne-Marie Oirin, Vice-Chairman of the OSCE Parliament, and an observer of the election said, â€œWe specially chose this area because military young specialists and navy men will be voting in the same polling station here.â€Â Â
She said they chose Vladivostok â€œto be sure that the whole area of Russia, which is a huge country, is covered by the OSCE election monitoring teamâ€.
â€œIn Vladivostok we have four teams today moving around the city and the suburbs,â€ she said.
The first exit polls and official results will be known as the last polling station closes in Russia’s westernmost region of Kaliningrad in 18 hours.