Opposition Shut Out in Russia Election

MOSCOW (AP) -- Voters on Sunday cast ballots across Russia for local legislators and governors, in elections expected to be won by candidates loyal to President Vladimir Putin.

Legislative elections were held in 11 of Russia's 83 regions, but the anti-Putin opposition was allowed to run only in Kostroma, a region a few hundred kilometers (miles) north of Moscow.

Opposition candidates Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Andreichenko campaigned throughout the rural, economically depressed region, but they came up against a general feeling of apathy. Most Russians still see no alternative to Putin and have little interest in a political process now controlled by the Kremlin.

Even in Moscow, with its wealthier, more Western-oriented population, the opposition has been marginalized in recent years.

Kostroma was also one of 21 Russian regions holding gubernatorial elections. The Kremlin-backed incumbent, Sergei Sitnikov, told reporters while voting that he expected "success and victory."

Sunday's elections were seen as a dress rehearsal for next year's vote for a national parliament.