Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Regions in Urals Agree to Merge

In a first, the residents of two Ural Mountains regions have overwhelmingly approved in a referendum a plan to merge into a single region.

Preliminary results from Sunday's referendum showed that 89.69 percent in Perm and 83.94 percent in neighboring Komi-Permyatsky voted in favor of the merger, Central Elections Commission deputy head Oleg Velyashev said.

Several of the country's 89 regions have discussed mergers in the past, but this is the first time that concrete action has been taken. Sunday's vote paves the way for similar referendums in other regions in the future and is a better option than ordering regions to merge, National Policy Minister Vladimir Zorin said Monday. "The enlargement of the regions will proceed ... in accordance with the wishes of the voters," Zorin said.

For the merger to take place, the State Duma will have to amend the Constitution to officially record the change. "This will require the support of two-thirds of the State Duma's deputies. But the amendment is only a technicality, and it will not be hard to collect the necessary votes," said Igor Bunin, director of the Center for Political Technologies, Interfax reported.