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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 vast and scarcely populated territory of Eastern Siberia is an important industrial region.

The population are mainly descendants of Slavic migrants who settled here at the turn on the century. As in the Russian Far East, there is a small number of indigenous people of various ethnic groups.

The Communist Party scored was victorious here in 1995. Analysts believe the local electorate voted for the party they knew best, which also happened to be the most enthusiastic campaigner in the region. In the December 1999 election the picture was mixed: the Communist Party was victorious in two regions on the border with Mongolia, one region fell to Fatherland-All Russia, and the rest were taken by Unity.

Much of the local vote lies in the hands of two people: General Alexander Lebed, governor of the important Krasnoyarsk region, and Sergey Shoygu, head of the Ministry of Emergencies and leader of the Kremlin-backed Unity election alliance. Mr Shoygu, a close ally of President Yeltsin, comes from one of the local republics, Tuva.