Exit polls in Russia show two big pro-Putin parties - United Russia and the newly-formed Fair Russia - leading in regional elections that the opposition has strongly denounced.

Voters in 14 regions and a number of cities cast ballots Sunday for local legislatures.

Exit polls predict big wins by United Russia - which is controlled by the Kremlin - and Fair Russia, which was formed in October when three small parties merged. The Communist Party and ultra-nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party are also expected to win seats.

This is Fair Russia's first election. Critics call it a Kremlin-sanctioned party masking as an opposition party. They complain that genuine opposition parties, including the liberal Yabloko, were deliberately left off a number of ballots.

Russian political analysts are calling Sunday's vote a preview of December's national parliamentary election and next year's presidential election.

President Vladimir Putin is constitutionally-barred from running for a third term. He says he will not choose a successor, saying that person must ne democratically elected.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.