MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope that the Kremlin’s United Russia party will continue its dominance in parliament after the September election. The Sept. 19 vote is widely seen as an important part of Putin’s efforts to cement his rule before the next presidential election in 2024. The 68-year-old Russian leader, who has been in power for more than two decades, pushed through a constitutional reform last year that would potentially allow him to hold onto power until 2036. The United Russia faction currently holds 334 parliament seats out of 450. But independent polls show only 27% of Russians are prepared to vote for the party this year. Putin said Sunday that he “very much counts” on the party to “retain its positions” after the election.
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