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    Putin loyalists retain seats in Russia

    KHIMKI, Russia — President Vladimir Putin’s loyalists appeared likely Sunday to retain their hold in thousands of local elections that offered slightly more room for competition, but were marred by opposition allegations of widespread vote fraud.

    The Kremlin eased stiff election laws in response to major protests against Putin’s rule last winter, but introduced new restrictions after the demonstrations abated. Kremlin-approved governors and most of the incumbent mayors appeared poised to preserve their seats and the Kremlin’s main United Russia party will likely keep dominating local legislatures and municipal councils.

    Monitors said they saw evidence of ballot stuffing and were often denied permission to check voter lists.

    Associated Press