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A man votes at a polling station in the Kostroma region's gubernatorial election Sunday. Photo: Vladimir Smirnov/TASS via Getty Images

Russians were voting Sunday in local elections seen as a test in the popularity of President Vladimir Putin and the ruling United Russia party that supports him ahead of next year's parliamentary elections.

Why it matters: The polls come weeks after Russian opposition leader and Putin critic Alexei Navalny was found to be poisoned with nerve agent Novichok — a calling card of the Russian security services. Navalny had backed United Russia's "key challengers" and was promoting a tactical "smart voting" system before he fell ill, the BBC notes.

Of note: Navalny was taken out of a medically induced coma in Germany last Monday but remains in the hospital under police protection.

  • Russia denies that any crime took place.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Oct 23, 2020 - World

Special report: Trump's hopes of nuclear deal with Putin come down to the wire

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A surprise offer from Vladimir Putin has the U.S. and Russia once again circling a potential pre-election nuclear deal.

The big picture: The last treaty constraining the U.S. and Russia, New START, is due to expire on Feb. 5, 2021, two weeks after the next U.S. presidential inauguration. For the first time since the height of the Cold War, the nuclear guardrails could come off.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

3 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.