FIRST AIRED: September 19, 2016

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>> Not exactly a surprise, but a party loyal to President Vladimir Putin has comfortably won Russia's parliamentary election. The ruling United Russia Party gaining 51% of the vote according to an early tally. That will allow it to extend its dominance of the lower house, or Duma. Putin welcoming the result.
>> Times are hard, it's difficult, but people still vote for United Russia. What does this tell us? First of all, it tells us that people see the representatives of the United Russia as the leading political force of really doing their best for the people.>> One possible warning sign for the administration, turnout falling to around 40%.
That's down on the 60% seen in the last poll and could point to waning enthusiasm for the government. The populist LDPR come in second on about 15% of the poll, with the Communists just behind. Meanwhile, the Liberal Opposition Party failed to get over the 5% threshold needed to win seats.
Reuters' Chief Moscow Correspondent, Andrew Osborn.>> Opinion, is of course, as you would expect, divided over how free and fair these elections were. If you listen to the Kremlin, these were the cleanest elections of their kind in modern Russian history. And frankly, Kremlin officials are saying, there was not more that we could do.
We gave everyone an equal chance. The Liberal Opposition, of course, has a very different view. It says that it was starved of television air time on state television. That its candidates were vilified by state media. And the pro-Kremlin provocateurs disrupted their campaigns, meetings with voters. And generally there was a dirty tricks campaign against Liberal Opposition candidates.
>> Now, the result could be a springboard for Putin's reelection bid in 2018. No official confirmation yet that he will run. But nor is there the slightest sign that he won't.