Moscow: Russian police on Saturday impounded a
truck full of Communist Party literature without explanation
as the country officially kicked off its campaign for December
4 parliamentary polls.
The State Duma elections are expected to return Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin`s ruling United Russia to power for
the third time running and leave the Communist Party trailing
in distant second place.
But Kremlin officials fear that growing discontent with
political cronyism and corruption may dampen voter turnout and
keep United Russia from securing the super-majority it holds
That in turn could spoil the mood around Putin`s expected
return to the Kremlin in March elections in which he swaps
jobs with President Dmitry Medvedev and potentially keeps
power for another 12 years.
The Communist Party has never won more than a quarter of
the vote in any Duma election and is now targeting a
performance of about 15 percent.
Its hopes have historically rested on support from the
struggling central regions of industrial Russia such as Tula
-- once a famed tsarist fortress 190 kilometres (120 miles)
south of Moscow.
A local Communist Party official told the Interfax news
agency that police had intercepted a truck travelling from the
city with 84,000 copies of a left-wing newspaper detailing the
group`s electoral platform.
"I think they are looking for an excuse to exclude us
from these elections," the Communist Party official said.