As polling station in the parts of far eastern Russia open for the presidential election, the country’s PM Vladimir Putin expresses his confidence the vote will provide him with the one more, the third, mandate at the Kremlin. Indeed, the media report his team is already building a stage where he is to deliver the victory speech. In the meantime, the country deployed over 6,000 police reinforcements to Moscow amid fears of mass post-election rallies.
Vladimir Putin, who has served as the Russia’s president from 2000 to 2008, faces four candidates in his bet for the return to the Kremlin. According to the pools, the former KGB agent is set up for the victory with 60 per cent of the vote in the first round. His main challenger, Gennady Zyuganov of the Communist Party, is expected to take the second place with only 15 percent. The ‘bronze’ should be won by either a NBA billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, or an ultranationalist, while A Just Russia party candidate Sergei Mironov looks set to finish last.
Following a mass outrage over alleged fraud during December’s parliamentary election, the presidential vote is being observed by up to 30,000 monitors across Russia to try to prevent vote rigging. In addition, there are 250,000 webcams at the one hundred thousand polling stations.
Nevertheless, the opposition says it all isn’t enough to ensure fairness.
”People in Russia are not going to recognize Putin's victory in the first round” Alexei Navalny, anticorruption blogger and activist, told the Associated Press. He also invited his followers to a march on Manezh Square, just outside the Kremlin's walls.
Indeed, it seems a reprise December's mass protests after the election is certain. Both pro and anti-Putin demonstrations are to be held in Moscow on Monday.
The election in Russia is a ‘big thing’ – almost 110 million Russian citizens are eligible to vote, which is taking place in 11 time zones. Polls will be open from 8am to 8pm in each time zone, with the first opening in the far eastern areas of Vladivostok and Yakutsk at 20:00 GMT on Saturday, and the last in the western Kaliningrad region closing at 17:00 GMT on Sunday.