Khabarovsk — Vladimir Putin had been reassured that the regional election in September 2018 would be nothing to worry about. Putin’s man would retain the governorship of Khabarovsk Krai, a region in Russia’s far east, securing a small majority in the first round, one of his intelligence agencies had predicted. The upstart local opposition challenger was no threat.

“According to the results of a survey conducted by the Special Services of the Russian Federal Protection Agency ... victory in this election, already in the first round, is altogether likely for the incumbent,” the Russian president was advised in a document seen by the FT...

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