Corey Flintoff

Russian officials are working to make sure that Sunday's parliamentary elections aren't a replay of the last such vote, in 2011.

That election triggered protests in which tens of thousands of Russians cried out against allegations of widespread vote-rigging and fraud. It was the biggest challenge to President Vladimir Putin, who has now been either president or prime minister for the past 17 years.

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It started with a report and erupted into a controversy involving a mufti, a Russian Orthodox priest and a rabbi.

The subject: female genital mutilation.

Last month, when Wikileaks published 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, cyber-security experts quickly said that the hack bore a Russian fingerprint.

Russia denies that it is trying to meddle in the U.S. presidential election. But Mark Galeotti, who follows cyber-crime for the Institute for International Relations in Prague, says worldwide research points in the Russians' direction.

Crimea came back into the headlines this summer when Donald Trump suggested he was willing to consider recognizing Russia's takeover of the Ukrainian territory. Trump also said he'd think about lifting the sanctions the U.S. imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

The Kremlin has been racing to cement its control over the Black Sea peninsula. A key part of this effort is the Crimea Bridge, and it's essential to President Vladimir Putin's plan to make the peninsula a viable part of Russia.

President Vladimir Putin says he'll beef up Russia's military force in Crimea, after Russia's security service claimed that it thwarted a would-be terrorist incursion from Ukraine over the weekend.

The Federal Security Service, the FSB, said that teams of commandos from Ukraine's defense forces made two attempts to enter the Black Sea peninsula, with the intention of sabotaging vital infrastructure. The FSB said Ukrainian forces attempted to cover the infiltration by directing heavy fire at the Russian side, killing two Russian servicemen.

Russia is indignant about allegations that it was involved in hacking the Democratic National Committee and releasing thousands of embarrassing emails through WikiLeaks.

Democrats have charged that the exploit was designed to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign and favor Donald Trump's. Russia denies any involvement, but the incident helps shed light on how Russia's political establishment perceives the two major-party presidential nominees.

Amid rising tensions between NATO and Russia, the two sides are building up forces in several key places, including the Black Sea.

Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine two years ago, is on the Black Sea, and that's also where Russia recently stationed a new frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich, inviting journalists on board at the Russian base in Sevastopol.

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