Russian voters desert Putin's party
Exit polls cited by Russian state television are showing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party tallying less than 50% of the vote in Russia's parliamentary election.
The results represent a significant drop in support for United Russia compared to the previous election four years ago when it won over 64% of the vote nationwide.
The early returns from the vote signal it may lose its current two-third majority that allowed it to change the constitution unchallenged.
The drop reflects a sense of disenchantment with Mr Putin's authoritarian course, rampant corruption and the gap between ordinary Russians and the super-rich.
United Russia is followed by the Communist Party with nearly 20% of the vote, according to two separate exit polls cited by Channel One and Rossiya television.