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Russia Holds Final Direct Election of Regional Governor

Russian voters Sunday took part in the last direct election of a regional governor.

The balloting in the far northern Nenets Autonomous District is the final time any Russian voter can express his or her choice for regional leader. Under a new law, President Vladimir Putin will appoint governors. Mr. Putin argues the new system is needed to help strengthen federal authority and avert terrorist attacks.

Protesters held a rally in Moscow timed to coincide with the election. Some carried signs warning that the end of regional voting will lead to the collapse of Russia.

At a stop in Poland on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern over democratic prospects in Russia.

The day before, a regional assembly in eastern Russia quickly approved the first of Mr. Putin's appointed governors.

Some information provided by AP.