Europe

Russia begins national parliament election

  • Election officials place a Russian state flag at a polling station ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the village of Gusino, outside Smolensk, western Russia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Russia's weekend parliament elections take place under new rules that in principle could bring genuine opposition into the national legislature. But the Kremlin-backed United Russia and the parties that almost always follow its lead are set remain the overwhelming presence in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Election officials place a Russian state flag at a polling station ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the village of Gusino, outside Smolensk, western Russia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Russia's weekend parliament elections take place under new rules that in principle could bring genuine opposition into the national legislature. But the Kremlin-backed United Russia and the parties that almost always follow its lead are set remain the overwhelming presence in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)  (The Associated Press)

  • Election officials prepare a voting booth adorned with the coat of arms of the Russian state ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the village of Gusino, outside Smolensk, western Russia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Russia's weekend parliament elections take place under new rules that in principle could bring genuine opposition into the national legislature. But the Kremlin-backed United Russia and the parties that almost always follow its lead are set remain the overwhelming presence in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Election officials prepare a voting booth adorned with the coat of arms of the Russian state ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the village of Gusino, outside Smolensk, western Russia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Russia's weekend parliament elections take place under new rules that in principle could bring genuine opposition into the national legislature. But the Kremlin-backed United Russia and the parties that almost always follow its lead are set remain the overwhelming presence in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)  (The Associated Press)

  • An election official carries a pre-election leaflet at a polling station ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the village of Gusino, outside Smolensk, western Russia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Russia's weekend parliament elections take place under new rules that in principle could bring genuine opposition into the national legislature. But the Kremlin-backed United Russia and the parties that almost always follow its lead are set remain the overwhelming presence in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    An election official carries a pre-election leaflet at a polling station ahead of Sunday's parliamentary elections in the village of Gusino, outside Smolensk, western Russia, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Russia's weekend parliament elections take place under new rules that in principle could bring genuine opposition into the national legislature. But the Kremlin-backed United Russia and the parties that almost always follow its lead are set remain the overwhelming presence in the State Duma. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)  (The Associated Press)

Russia's governing party and its three largely cooperative opponents are expected to retain their positions in the national parliament, but new procedures for choosing the seats could affect their proportions.

Voting for the State Duma began Sunday morning in the Far East, nine hours ahead of Moscow and won't conclude until 22 hours later when polls close in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.

There are 450 seats at stake in the Duma, but unlike the last two sessions, only half the seats are chosen by national party-list; the other 225 are contested in specific districts.

Nationwide polling in recent weeks have shown the pro-Kremlin United Russia with support of around 50 percent of likely voters, which would be enough to maintain its absolute majority.