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:
Reformist ideas are strongly represented in this region,
particularly in Nizhny Novgorod, which was until 1996
governed by a prominent reformer and former
vice-premier, Boris Nemtsov. The city was also the
political starting point for a former prime minister,
Sergey Kiriyenko. Both Nemtsov and Kiriyenko are
members of the pro-Western Union of Right Wing forces
which strongly supports market reforms in Russia. In December's election it took third place in the Nizhny Novgorod region, behind the Communists and Unity.
Another local power base is the republic of Tatarstan. Its
president, Mentimer Shaimiev, is one of the most
influential political figures in Russia. Mr Shaimiev is a
prominent member of the Fatherland-All Russia alliance,
along with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and another
former prime minister, Yevgeny Primakov. The president
of Tatarstan is highly respected and enjoys a loyal
following in his republic. Until December's election he had always given
his support to parties representing the Russian
government, which has invariably ensured their victory in
Tatarstan. This time, predictably, Tatarstan and neighbouring Bashkortostan gave preference to Fatherland-All Russia.
Overall, results in the region were mixed; Unity, the Communist Party, and Fatherland-All Russia all enjoyed some successes.
The Volga region's economy is in relatively good shape. Some local republics have
their own oil resources, and private enterprise is