Moscow (AP) - After the exclusion of dozens of prominent opposition figures, Moscow and other regions of Russia today elect new representatives of the people. The election is mainly at the regional level.

The votes in all 85 regions of the Giant Kingdom with its 11 time zones are considered an important mood test for Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin and the ruling party United Russia. The Kremlin party wants to defend its power. Only in 2021 Russia will elect a new parliament.

56 million voters are called to vote - that's almost half of Russia's electorate. Polls had recently predicted massive losses for the Kremlin party. Great is the dissatisfaction in the country because of the lack of jobs and low wages.

In advance, the city council election in Moscow received the most attention. After the exclusion of many oppositionists for alleged formal errors, there were massive protests and thousands of arrests. Germany had also criticized the police violence against peaceful protesters in Moscow. Thousands of citizens had also demonstrated in many other cities for fair and free elections.

Also chosen is the Black Sea peninsula Crimea. The poll is not recognized internationally, because according to international law the area belongs to Ukraine. The EU and US have imposed sanctions on Russia over the annexation of the Crimea. Altogether there are nearly 6000 votes at different levels. The most important elections are in 16 regions where new governors are elected. Meaningful results are expected only this Monday.

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