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Duma Approves Early Parliamentary Vote In 2016

Members of Russia's Kremlin-controlled lower house of parliament have given tentative approval to a bill that would move up next year's parliamentary elections by three months, a move which critics say is aimed at weakening the opposition.

The State Duma voted 339-101 with one abstention on June 19 to approve the bill in the first of three readings.

It would also need to be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin.

The bill provides for moving the 2016 parliamentary elections from December to September.

It would likely result in a lower public interest in the campaign, as many Russians go on vacation in the summer.

On June 18, ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Putin, whose term ends in 2018, could also order an early presidential vote.

Based on reporting by AP and Interfax