Russian elections underscore problems faced by Putin foes
MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian regional elections have tightened Vladimir Putin's grip on power and underlined opposition failure to build street protest into an effective challenge at the start of the president's six-year term.
Ten months ago, suspicions that fraud propelled Mr Putin's ruling United Russia party to victory in a parliamentary election brought tens of thousands of people into the streets of Moscow for the biggest protests of his 12 years in power.
As United Russia celebrated victory on Monday in local and regional elections that its foes alleged were just as dirty as the December vote, one opposition leader tweeted that nationwide protests were imminent.
United Russia won all five governorships at stake in the first elections of regional leaders since Mr Putin scrapped them in favour of appointees during his initial 2000-2008 presidency.