Russian opposition leader says election polls misleading

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MOSCOW, November 26 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS), Nikita Belykh, said he expected parliamentary elections on December 2 to bring his party far more votes than opinion polls suggest.

Opinion pollsters have predicted that the SPS will receive about 3% of the vote at the State Duma elections. Under the new election laws, parties have to overcome a 7% barrier to make it into the lower house of parliament.

"On average, we garnered 8% at the [local] elections in March," Belykh told a news conference in Moscow on Monday. He added that opinion surveys held a week before the elections had also suggested that the SPS would only gather 2-3% of the vote.

The SPS took part in the weekend's anti-Putin demonstrations in Russia, with one of its top members, Boris Nemstov, briefly detained by police in St Petersburg on Sunday.

Opinion polls

Only one political party - the pro-Kremlin United Russia - will get enough votes to take seats in the State Duma, said Valery Fyodorov, the head of the government-backed VTsIOM pollster, citing a survey conducted on November 17-18.

He predicted that United Russia would win 55.6% of the vote. The other parties close to crossing the 7% margin are the Communists with 5.8%, the A Just Russia party with 4.9%, and the ultra-nationalist LDPR with 4.8%.

"The other parties will get around 1% or less," Fyodorov told a news conference in Moscow.

Pollster forecasts

Meanwhile, VTsIOM experts published their own forecasts on the December 2 elections on Monday, predicting that only four parties would overcome the 7% barrier - United Russia (62.1%), the Communists (12.2%), LDPR (8%), and A Just Russia (7%).

The remaining parties are predicted to receive less than 3% of the vote.

Turnout at Sunday's polls is expected to be around 54%.

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