Putin's party tightens its grip
Russia's ruling party swept regional elections in several provinces at the weekend, easily maintaining its grip on power.
The United Russia party is chaired by former president Vladimir Putin who has continued to call the shots as prime minister and remains widely popular.
Early returns show the party winning an average of 60% of the vote to fill seats in regional legislatures in six provinces.
That represents an increase compared with the last round of regional elections in March when the party got about 50%.
United Russia has dominated the federal parliament and holds the majority of seats in most regional legislatures across the country.