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Putin Allies Win Sweeping Victory in Russia Parliamentary Vote

Russians woke up on Monday to a changed political landscape in their country. Parties supporting President Vladimir Putin swept to victory in Sunday's election for the lower house of parliament. Two small liberal parties appear to have been shut out of parliament.

President Putin's United Russia Party and its allies will dominate the new parliament and might even reach a two-thirds majority that would allow them to rewrite Russia's constitution.

With more than 80 percent of results counted, the Communist Party's lower-house strength was cut in half.

Party leader Gennady Zyuganov quickly denounced the election as a "farce." His deputies say they will lodge a formal complaint of fraud.

Perhaps Sunday's biggest losers were two pro-Western liberal parties, which received less than the five percent minimum required to have party seats in the Duma.

Early Monday, one party leader, Boris Nemtsov, warned that the new Duma would speak out for a police state, for limiting civil rights, and even for confrontation with the West."

The hard-line nationalist Liberal Democratic party and a new nationalist group called Motherland also did well in the election.

Many analysts say the surge in popularity for Motherland was because of open backing from the Kremlin and the means to drain support away from the Communists.

The Communists have long been the major opposition force.

The respected business newspaper Vedomosti summed up the results, declaring that Russia had become "a new country."