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.