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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:


Western Siberia

The coal-mining region of Western Siberia has contributed a great deal to the continuing popularity of the communists in Russia. Ironically, it was here in early 1990, that Boris Yeltsin received the overwhelming support that helped him to power. Later, however, the region turned into a battleground between the local coal miners and the government in Moscow.

As a result of poor investment in the industry and Moscow's disastrous record on public sector payments which caused massive wage arrears, the region became a political hotspot. With the coal industry in neglect, the local electorate turned to the communists for what they thought was a safe alternative to the Yeltsin administration. The governor of Kemerovo region, Aman Touleev, is one of Russia's most prominent politicians, and has been a staunch supporter of the communists.

In the December election the leading parties in the region were Unity and the Communist Party.