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    LDPR ultra-nationalists walk out of Duma over election results

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    Russia's ultra-nationalist LDPR faction walked out of the lower house of parliament Wednesday in protest against regional elections results.

    MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's ultra-nationalist LDPR faction walked out of the lower house of parliament Wednesday in protest against regional elections results.

    The ruling party, United Russia, scored a landslide victory in 13 regions Sunday, trailing only the new Just Russia party in the southern Stavropol Territory. The Communists (KPRF), Just Russia and LDPR emerged second, third and fourth respectively in most of the 14 regions.

    "The LDPR election results were falsified," the charismatic party leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said following the March 11 elections largely seen as a rehearsal for the federal parliamentary elections in December 2007.

    He complained that a new Kremlin-sponsored party, Just Russia, had snatched 10% of his party's 20% votes, and added there had been some vote rigging in particular in the Orlov Region south of Moscow.

    Preliminary results suggest that LDPR came fourth in the Orlov Region with 7.33% of votes while Just Russia was third with 12.6%.

    Zhirinovsky said the Communists had also appropriated some of his party's votes.

    Russia's Central Election Commission said the ultra-nationalist leader's statements were a political demarche. "LDPR pursues its own goals, there is nothing to comment on here," the press service said but added the commission would make sure that there had been no irregularities in the Orlov Region elections.

    On the second day after the elections, Zhirinovsky said Just Russia, established to take votes from the Communists, had caused serious damage to his party instead.

    "The party occupied our place, it did not violate the Communists' monopoly as planned," he said.

    The elections demonstrated that LDPR had lost 1.5% of votes since the 2003 Duma elections, Alexander Veshnyakov, the top election official, said.

    The Duma commission for election law enforcement said it would contact party representatives to find out their opinion of the regional election results, said Nikolai Gonchar, head of the commission.

    "We will not wait until the commission starts receiving complaints but will phone the political parties ourselves," he said.

    Like the LDPR, the Communists are also contesting the elections results but in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Daghestan, where the party was at the bottom of the list, with 7.12%, barely above the minimum threshold of 7%.

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