MOSCOW, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Russia welcomed its "single voting day" on Sunday, with voters directly electing governors in five regions for the first time in eight years, the country's Central Elections Commission (CEC) said.
The direct gubernatorial elections took place at the Amur Region in the Far East, the Bryansk and Ryazan Regions in central area, the Belgorod Region in the west and the Novgorod Region in the north, said the CEC in a statement on its website.
Meanwhile, some 4,800 elections were held in the 77 out of 83 regions across the country, said the CEC, adding the votings and referendums were at various levels.
According to an order issued by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier this month, regional elections and ballot counting would be broadcast live on the Internet.
A number of new political parties were formed during the election campaigns due to the liberation of relevant legislation, Deputy Head of the CEC Leonid Ivlev told local media.
Candidates from 26 political parties were to take part in the elections, Ivlev said, adding the figure was much more than the seven parties "in the country's political arena over past years."
The single voting day also featured more vivid regional campaigns, as more than 3,000 candidates of over 20 political parties were competing to get seats in local parliaments, according to the CEC.
The CEC also opened an information center for the elections on Sunday, with reporters and representatives of the Russian Parliament and the presidential administration gathered there.
The center would process most parts of the preliminary results by 10:00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) on Monday, said the CEC.
Direct election of governors was canceled in 2004 by then President Vladimir Putin, who saw it as encouraging local separatism sentiments.
After last December's parliamentary elections, mass rallies were held in Russian cities protesting alleged vote fraud. A return to the direct election of governors was one of the protesters' demands.
More than 100,000 policemen would be deployed to ensure "law and order" during the elections, the Interior Ministry said.