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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kommersant Leads With Boxing Match

MTKommersant blew out its front page with a story of a boxing match, while Izvestia chose a more traditional post-election approach.
While most national newspapers led their front pages Monday with United Russia's runaway victory in the State Duma, Boris Berezovsky's Kommersant splashed out a large report of a boxing match between Vitali Klitschko and Kirk Johnson -- even though it had finished a day before the elections began.

The election results were relegated to below the fold in a blatant snub by a newspaper that had backed Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, which both failed to clear the 5 percent barrier to make it into the Duma.

A member of Kommersant's editorial team said the Boris Berezovsky-owned newspaper decided to lead with the boxing match because it had been more competitive than the elections.

"They were the technical implementation of decisions made earlier at a certain place," the journalist said, referring to the Kremlin.

Some newspapers Monday warned about the dangers posed by a pro-Kremlin parliament with a nationalist tinge. Many took a neutral stance, while a few went to press before preliminary results were released. But all were united on one theme: President Vladimir Putin's new puppies.

"We are waking up in different country," Gazeta said in an editorial.

"It is dangerous to walk the streets of a country where millions vote for [Dmitry] Rogozin and [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky," satirist Viktor Shenderovich wrote in Gazeta.

Vedomosti cautioned that Putin now has carte blanche to do what he wants with the Constitution. "It is important that Russia doesn't turn into an authoritarian regime ? la [Belarussian President Alexander] Lukashenko or [Turkmen leader Saparmurat] Niyazov," the newspaper said in an editorial.

Resigned hopelessness could also be seen. Shenderovich told the story of a friend who was handed a United Russia flyer on the street and responded with an expletive. The campaigner replied, "Yeah, I feel much the same."

Putin's revelation Sunday that his favorite black Labrador had kept him and his family up all night giving birth to eight puppies filled the front page of Komsomolskaya Pravda and was the leitmotif of many other reports. "By the way, it is still a mystery which government leader helped improve the demographic situation among Russian Labradors," Vremya Novostei wrote, suggesting the father was a Labrador belonging to Vladimir Kozhin, head of the Kremlin household directorate.

Vedomosti columnist Olga Romanova contemplated who might take the puppies home, and expressed hope that they might have some conciliatory effect. "Maybe we should give puppies to Rogozin, Zhirinovsky and General Valentin Varrenikov, and our new Duma will not be a red-brown plague but one that fights fleas," she said.

She said the puppies could persuade United Russia to become open to journalists and Rodina to walk into parliament and declare: "Look, it was all a stupid joke. We just wanted to check whether there are still voters with a thirst for the ideas of Leninism, pogroms and caveman nationalism."

"And they will hug [SPS's Anatoly] Chubais and [Yabloko's Grigory] Yavlinsky and take the idea of democracy to the people," Romanova said.