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Originally published Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 2:49 AM

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Opposition aims for headway in Russian local vote

Russians are casting ballots in local elections that offer a degree of political competition but still remain tightly controlled by President Vladimir Putin's government.

The Associated Press

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KHIMKI, Russia —

Russians are casting ballots in local elections that offer a degree of political competition but still remain tightly controlled by President Vladimir Putin's government.

One of the most visible races Sunday is that for mayor of the town of Khimki, just outside Moscow.

Opposition activist Yevgenia Chirikova, who played a major role in the massive winter protests against Putin's rule, is challenging the incumbent mayor. She has complained of an uneven playing field, saying authorities tried to thwart her meetings with voters and put up other obstacles.

Chirikova won fame a few years ago by campaigning to save a local forest from being chopped down to build a highway. She lost that battle to powerful commercial interests, but has since become a prominent opposition figure.

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