Millions of Russians are voting in regional elections in what is being seen as a test of President Medvedev’s pledge to loosen the Kremlin’s grip on the political system.
The poll will also guage the popularity of the ruling United Russia party amid anger over rising prices and unemployment.
A series of voting violations reported by opposition parties in last year’s regional elections has also added to people’s disillusionment.
The elections come half-way through Dmitry Medvedev’s four-year term as President. He has failed to convince many that he has made progress on a pledge to change a political system that centralised power during his predecessor Vladimir Putin’s eight years in the Kremlin.
In the face of a fragmented opposition, United Russia is again expected to dominate the elections.