>> Russians are set Sunday to vote in Parliamentary elections. The ruling United Russia Party backed by President Vladimir Putin looks all but certain to keep its majority. The Reuters Deputy Moscow Bureau Chief Andrew Osborn says it could still face a test.>> Opinion polls have shown that Russians are generally very apathetic about this election, that many people do not intend to vote.
And of course, we are still in the middle of a grinding economic crisis, which is being worsened by Western sanctions imposed over Russia. So the test here will really be, how many Russians are willing to come out in these conditions to vote for the ruling party.>> Russia's sanctioned-hit economy is in the doldrums, but so it seems is the opposition movement.
Thrust into life after the last Parliamentary elections amidst allegations of electoral fraud, it's since fallen relatively silent. A raft of legislation in recent years has made descent harder. Unsanctioned protest now carried a much higher fine, and non-governmental organizations have also been targeted.>> The Russian Parliament has brought in new laws.
New laws which make it much harder for rights groups, for groups which are monitoring elections to operate. Those groups, any groups which receive money from foreign sources are now labeled foreign agents. That carries a stigma, it suggests that they are working on behalf of hostile foreign powers.>> The Kremlin argues these are set to be free and fair elections with opposition figures on the ballot and some getting air time on state television.
>> But those campaigning for change claim it's smoke and mirrors. And that their bids for some of the 450 Parliamentary seats on offer have been stifled before they even started.