A man casts his ballot for the Russian regional elections at a polling station in the town of Kostroma on September 13, 2015
Moscow (AFP) - Russia's election officials said Monday that candidates from the ruling party backing President Vladimir Putin broadly swept the polls in local elections.
The anti-Putin opposition received minimal support in Sunday's polls, blaming state media and smear campaigns by opponents for the low result.
Voting took place in 83 regions of Russia, with 21 regions electing their governors, 19 of which backed United Russia candidates.
The United Russia incumbent in the majority-Muslim region of Tatarstan won almost 95 percent of the vote.
Only in Siberia's Irkutsk region did a Communist candidate manage to push the vote into a second round, while a candidate from the nationalist Liberal Democratic party won in the Smolensk region.
United Russia also dominated the votes for 11 regional legislatures, taking more than 70 percent of the vote in several regions, and less than 50 percent in only one -- Novosibirsk.
Independent monitoring group Golos said the polls were "in most cases predetermined by the decisions and actions of the authorities," with many opposition candidates barred from standing.
The RPR-Parnas opposition coalition fielded just two candidates, in the rural Volga region of Kostroma, after other regions disqualified its candidates.
It won only 2.2 percent of the Kostroma vote, failing to reach the five percent needed to get a seat in its regional parliament, according to results posted Monday.
The RPR-Parnas coalition includes the party of slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov and is fronted by protest leader Alexei Navalny.
Another liberal opposition party Yabloko, which has distanced itself from Navalny, won several seats in local and regional legislatures in central Russia and Siberia.
Navalny and the candidates from his coalition were subjected to numerous crude pranks during their campaign implying that they are sponsored by the United States, including the arrival of a black man posing as a US diplomat at their campaign office.
On Sunday night, Navalny's car was plastered with miniature US flags.
On Monday, opponents hung a banner on a building opposite the US embassy in Moscow showing opposition figures including Navalny sitting on toilets with the slogan: "Sorry, we failed."
While Navalny accused the authorities of rigging the vote, he blamed a state television propaganda campaign vilifying the opposition as the primary reason for Sunday's low score.
"We have to admit our (temporary) defeat in the fight against the 'zombie box' which reigns in small towns and villages," Navalny said, using a popular term for television.
Navalny has called for a mass protest rally in Moscow on September 20, although the city hall has not yet approved the location.