Russia lawmakers to restore governors' elections

Russia's parliament has moved closer to restoring elections for governors in the country.

In 2004, then-President Vladimir Putin scrapped such elections, and justified the move as necessary to keep criminals out of government.

After an extraordinary wave of anti-government protests last winter, current President Dmitry Medvedev promised to restore gubernatorial votes.

Parliament on Tuesday voted in favor of the bill on its second reading. The final reading is Wednesday and no significant changes are expected.

Opponents have lambasted the bill for allowing "presidential consultations" to the process, which could allow the Kremlin to block hopefuls it dislikes.

Despite growing opposition, Putin, now the prime minister, in March won a return to the presidency and is due to be sworn in next month.