Putin pummelled: Russian president takes a huge mauling in Moscow elections

Opposition declares tactical victory as ruling party loses 13 seats on Moscow city council

Although the party managed to win all 16 contested gubernatorial elections across the country, its seat share in Moscow's city council is down from 38 in 2014, which included the backing of 10 independent candidates.

In the end this day of voting seems to have resulted in everyone declaring themselves winners: United Russia has held on to power both on Moscow's city council and across the country more broadly (except for a punishing defeat in Khabarovsk region in the Far East); Mr Navalny's team can say their smart-voting campaign worked; and Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin can claim the most competitive of polls.

"We shouldn't forget that these were not real elections - a lot of genuine [opposition] candidates who would have won were not allowed to run", she tweeted.

"Moscow needs normal elections", Besedina declared.

At a polling station in the Moscow suburb of Planernaya on Sunday, Daria Ozerova, a 36-year-old Russian-language teacher, said she had voted for the Communist candidate following Navalny's advice.

Twenty of the candidates on Navalny's "smart voting" list won, which he called a "fantastic result" on Twitter.

"Congratulations everyone. I'm ready to walk around Moscow and kiss everyone", Alexey Navalny, Mr. Putin's most prominent critic, wrote on his web page after the results became clear on Monday.

Interfax said nine previous deputies of United Russia had retained their seats but that the party's leader in Moscow Andrei Metelsky, had lost a re-election bid.

Among the voters was President Vladimir Putin, who shrugged off concerns about excluded candidates, saying "It's not important how many, but the quality".

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As well as, 13 candidates received who have been nominally impartial however have been reportedly supported by United Russia. In some places, it got more seats, in others fewer.

But Putin and his allies can hardly call Sunday's nationwide voting anything but a success. The march, like many, had not been authorized to take place, a legal requirement in Russian Federation in recent years.

Alexander Beglov, the gaffe-prone acting governor of Saint Petersburg, was elected to lead Russia's second city after his main rival controversially withdrew a week before the vote.

Global editor Gabriel Gatehouse reports from Moscow on election weekend.

Numerous reports of electoral fraud were posted on social media, although RFE/RL could not independently verify their veracity.

Russian officials accused Facebook and Google of interfering in the elections by allowing political advertising on their websites on Sunday.

United Russia's own popularity is suffering from discontent over a move to raise the retirement age however at a time of steadily falling incomes. Police also raided the barred opposition candidates' homes and jailed many of them, including Navalny.

Moscow authorities chose to ban opposition candidates from running in the election in the summer, for dubious reasons including claims that some had petitioned to run using signatures of people who didn't exist or had died. Majority are communists.

The decision to bar the candidates sparked a wave of protests, the largest since the massive 2011-12 protests against Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term as president. So while the protest season in Moscow may be over, the opposition appears to have a new, now-proven strategy.

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