Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands at a polling station in Moscow. Reuters
Pro-Kremlin candidates suffered major losses in a Moscow city election, results showed Monday, following a police crackdown on a wave of anti-government protests over the summer.
But Kremlin-backed candidates dominated in other local and regional elections held outside of the capital at the weekend.
Demonstrations broke out in Moscow after top opposition figures were barred from standing in the city vote, but they widened in scope after a harsh response from authorities.
Kremlin-backed candidates previously held 38 of the Moscow assembly's 45 seats, but after the Sunday election that figure was down to 25.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who called the first summer protests after his allies were kept off the ballot paper, put the losses down to his "Smart Voting" plan.
The campaign called on Muscovites to back the politician, whatever their affiliation, most likely to beat a pro-Kremlin candidate.
The beneficiaries were the Communist Party -- which took 13 seats, up from five -- as well as the liberal Yabloko party and the left-leaning Just Russia, which each took three places.
The shake-up in the city parliament comes amid a stagnating economy, declining living standards and a fall in President Vladimir Putin's approval ratings.
"We fought for this together. Thanks to everyone for their contribution," Navalny said on Twitter following the Moscow results.
Lyubov Sobol, who emerged as a protest leader after she was blocked from running in the election, said the vote would go "down in history thanks to the courage and perseverance of Muscovites, and the cowardice and meanness" of the city administration.
Collapse in popularity
But Viktor Seliverstov, a lawmaker in the ruling United Russia party, played down the role of Navalny's scheme.
"I don't see the effect of this so-called tactical voting. Communists aren't smart voting -- Communists are Communists," he told Russian media.
United Russia, formed in 2001 to support Putin, has seen its popularity collapse in recent years.
In Moscow, none of the pro-Kremlin candidates ran under its banner, instead presenting themselves as "independents".
Kremlin-backed candidates won in all 16 regions where there were elections for governor.
Alexander Beglov, the gaffe-prone acting governor of Saint Petersburg, was elected to lead Russia's second city after his main rival controversially withdrew a week before the vote.
City council elections are normally low-profile, but Sunday's vote grabbed wide attention after several opposition and independent candidates were denied places on the ballot.
Russian police arrested more than 600 people on Saturday, including prominent activists, around a political protest in Moscow to demand that members of the opposition be allowed to run in a local election later this year.
A few thousand Russians took to the streets of central Moscow on Saturday to demand free elections to the capital’s city legislature on Sept.8, defying a ban which has been enforced with violent detentions during previous protests.
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"These provocative and dangerous maneuvers are a source of problems for maritime security," said Mao Ning, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stressing that "the United States must immediately stop these dangerous provocations."
The governor said the first 300 children will be taken to Voronezh. A correspondent for state-run agency RIA Novosti near Voronezh said buses had arrived with around 150 people on board.
Nader Bishkat, 26, jumped into the river and grabbed the woman, and made sure her head was above the water, until the rescuers arrived, who pulled them out, amid praise from the large crowd who had gathered to monitor the situation.