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Kasparov Says Russian Parliamentary Elections a 'Farce'

Campaigning for Russia's parliamentary elections ended Friday, with polls predicting a landslide victory for the United Russia Party headed by President Vladimir Putin.

Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov said Friday that Sunday's elections are a farce because a significant portion of the electorate is being excluded from the process.

The former world chess champion told reporters the suppression of political opposition leaders is pushing the Putin government into illegitimacy.

Kasparov was released from jail Thursday after completing a five-day sentence for organizing an anti-Putin demonstration in Moscow last week.

Mr. Putin is required to step down as head of state next year, after two consecutive terms as president, but placement of his name on the ballot has prompted speculation that he could retain much of his power by becoming prime minister in the next government.

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders says Russians have not received fair and unbiased information about all of the parties competing in the election. The press group says Russian news media are being harassed to prevent them from reporting the activities of opposition parties.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.