Jailed Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky is urging voters to force Vladimir Putin into a second round run-off in Sunday’s presidential election.
The Prime Minister is seen as the clear favourite, but Khodorkovsky believes Putin’s ‘monopoly on power’ will be damaged if he has to fight a second round.
Opposition has been growing since allegations of vote-rigging in December’s parliamentary election, with a series of protests across Russia.
Despite a mainly disorganised opposition, it appears the groundwork is being laid for a civil society strong enough to survive, whatever happens in the Kremlin, according to environmental activist Yevgenia Chirikova.
“The process has been started, a critical mass of people has gathered and people have already tasted the ‘high’ of social activism,” said Chirikova.
Putin is expected to win up to 60 per cent in the first round.
Only the Communists led by Gennady Zyuganov seem credible opponents and organised enough to force Putin to battle it out in a second round.