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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Elections Bill Passes 2nd Reading

President Vladimir Putin's plan to scrap gubernatorial elections smoothly passed a second reading in the State Duma on Wednesday, with the debate overshadowed by political turmoil in neighboring Ukraine.

The bill, which allows the president to nominate regional governors who have, until now, been elected, won 357 votes. It requires one more reading and approval by the Federation Council before Putin can sign it into law.

The bill is part of a package that also includes new rules for elections to the Duma and tougher regulation of political parties.

The political crisis in Ukraine loomed large in Wednesday's debate.

"The bill is indecisive, but we need to adopt it," said Alexei Mitrofanov, whose LDPR party favors tough Kremlin rule across the country. "Otherwise we will see here what is happening in Ukraine."

Liberal opponents challenged Putin's assertion that by making governors subservient to the Kremlin he could make Russia immune to turmoil.