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News

Russian opposition chooses new leadership

Voters opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin have chosen a new opposition leadership to fight for reform. Prominent anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny won the most votes in the three-day online poll.

More than 200 left-wing, liberal and nationalist candidates competed for 45 seats on a so-called Coordinating Committee opposed to President Vladimir Putin, who returned to office in a landslide vote in March after serving a term as prime minister.

Some Committee members are high-profile opponents to Putin, including former chess champion Gary Kasparov, the head of the Left Front movement Sergei Udaltsov, who has been accused by authorities of plotting mass riots, and Boris Nemstov, ex-vice premier under former President Boris Yeltsin.

More than 81,000 voters took part in the three-day poll on the Internet. The ballot was extended until Monday after the website used for voting was hacked on Saturday for over eight hours.

Political analysts have described the poll as “symbolic”.

Seeking fresh boost

The organizers hope it will give the opposition a fresh boost for a protest movement that has become less visible on the streets since Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third unprecedented presidential term this year.

"This is their very first attempt at organizing the protest movement,” analyst Maria Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center told the Reuters news agency, pointing out that the Russian leaderhip had been pushing back the opposition.

Russian opposition candidates managed to get little support in regional elections on October 14.

The Internet vote generated interest in the capital Moscow and other urban areas in western regions of the Russia.

Russians living abroad in New York, Munich and Paris also cast votes. Responses were minimal, however, in Russia's eastern provinces.

rg/ipj (AFP, Reuters, dpa)