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Russia's Upper House Passes Bill Tightening Putin's Grip on Regions


Russia's upper house of parliament has approved President Vladimir Putin's controversial plan to end direct elections to choose regional governors, and allow the Kremlin to appoint them instead.

The Federation Council adopted the measure Wednesday by 145 votes to one, with two abstentions. It now goes to the Kremlin to become law with Mr. Putin's signature.

The president says such changes are necessary to block terrorists from trying to influence Russia's local elections. But critics across the political spectrum say the plan is a step back from democracy.

Under the new law, the Kremlin would select gubernatorial candidates, whose appointments would require confirmation by regional lawmakers. If a provincial parliament rejects a governor chosen by Moscow, the new law says Mr. Putin has the authority to dissolve that legislature.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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