Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on lawmakers in the newly elected lower house of parliament to support the country's efforts to increase its defense capabilities and secure its interests in the international arena.
Addressing the first session of the State Duma on October 5, Putin said the lawmakers must contribute to what he called the building of a "strong" Russia.
Putin also urged them to "forget political differences, saying the future of Russia and its citizens are “much above [their] personal and party ambitions."
The September 18 parliamentary elections gave the ruling United Russia party a constitutional majority in the legislative body.
Three other parties that support most of Putin’s policies -- the Communist Party, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and A Just Russia -- won Duma seats, while liberal Kremlin critics were kept out of the chamber.
Official nationwide turnout was less than 50 percent.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the vote was marred by procedural irregularities and curbs on basic political rights.
Russian opposition figures, videos from several polling stations, and statistical analysis of the election results pointed to massive fraud, including ballot-stuffing.