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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:



President Yeltsin was born in this region, and he is held in great esteem by the local electorate.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin was a communist governor of the industrial region of Yekaterinburg and people there remember him as a dynamic and charismatic leader. This local rapport and a better-than-average economic situation have been the principal reasons why pro-Yeltsin parties consistently win most of the votes here. Neither the Communists nor the Liberal Democrats of Vladimir Zhirinovsky have ever done well here.

However, a number of areas in the region are in a desperate economic state, including the important city of Cheliabinsk, which is a big centre for military research and production. The agricultural areas of the Urals are in deep depression, and lack of federal investment has severely affected local infrastructure. In such circumstances the Communist Party inevitably has widespread appeal.