As polling booths in Russia are being prepared for Sunday’s presidential election, the rest of the country is silent.
There is no campaigning and no talk of the ballot according to the strict law which prohibits any political advertising.
Polling stations have been ‘swept clean’ amid tightened security, while all 91,000 or so have been equipped with web cameras and transparent ballot boxes in a bid to make the elections free and fair. The move follows demonstrations and allegations of supporters fixing December’s parliamentary election in favour of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party.
In Moscow, international observers were given a final briefing 24 hours before the ballot got underway. Putin is expected to win comfortably.
Some 600 foreign observers will be watching the day unfold with early estimates of the result expected at around 18:00 hours Central European Time on Sunday.
One coffee shop has been staging its own popularity poll with an outline chocolate portrait of each customer’s favourite candidate sprinkled onto the cappuccino on demand. With no age limit on who could take part, the owners reckon over 20,000 cups were drunk although it is not clear whose picture topped the coffee poll.