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BBC News Online
Russia's regions will shape the next parliament and its relationship with the Kremlin. Moscow can no longer afford to ignore the opinion of the local electorates or the views of the powerful regional governors, some of whom wield tremendous influence over voters. For a guide to the regional picture, click the key regions on the map:


The Far North

The Russian Far North is a vast area stretching through several time zones that is militarily and politically of strategic importance.

The giant Gazprom company, a monopoly gas producer, is the main employer in the gas producing territories in and around the Yamal and Taimyr peninsulas. In1995 the Our Home is Russia party, headed by the then Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, won more votes than any other in the region - Mr Chernomyrdin is chairman of Gazprom's board of directors.

In the December 1999 election, the leading party, in nearly all regions of the Far North, was the government-sponsored Unity party.

The region has hardly anything to show for the economic and political reforms of the past several years, and most political parties do not see it as important enough to put any serious effort into campaigning locally.