Russian opposition parties expressed satisfaction with the results of Sunday's regional legislative elections seen as a popularity test for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.
Elections to local authorities were held on Sunday in 76 out of 83 regions from the Far East to European Russia amid rising unemployment and utility charges.
Preliminary results of the polls showed United Russia leading in each of the eight regional legislative polls. However, the predominant force in the federal parliament appeared to gain less support in the polls than it was expecting.
A major blow came in the city of Irkutsk, one of the largest in Siberia, where the Communist candidate for mayor won 62% of the vote, more then double United Russia's candidate, who gained some 27%.
The results of the legislative polls ran counter to United Russia leaders' expectations, with the party gaining support of over half of those casting votes in only four of the eight regions.
All four parties represented in the lower house of the Russian parliament - United Russia, the Communists, Liberal Democrats (LDPR) and the A Just Russia party - made it into the eight regional legislatures.
The Russian opposition appears more satisfied with the results of Sunday's elections than with those of the October 2009 regional polls. Opposition factions then walked out of parliament in protest against fraud during the polls, which were won in a landslide by United Russia.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said on Monday the polls indicated that Russians' minds were becoming more left-wing, and their sentiments more "red."
Zyuganov said the number of Communists' supporters increased "significantly." "We move forward," he said.
The Liberal Democrats were also optimistic about the elections results.
"The process of democratization of elections in our country has activated, and we are very pleased with this fact," LDPR parliamentary faction leader Igor Lebedev told RIA Novosti, adding that the results of Sunday's polls were "absolutely different" if compared with those of the previous regional polls.
He said the elections were "positive" for LDPR.
The A Just Russia party was also "satisfied" with the results. The leader of the party's parliamentary faction, Nikolai Levichev, said the support of the party increased by 75% if compared with the October 2009 elections.
He said the elections showed the party made a "step forward."
MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti)