Voting has started in Russia in an election that is almost certain to see Vladimir Putin win a third presidential term. He has already been in power for 12 years.
The vote started in the far east of Russia, eight hours ahead of Moscow.
Putin’s aides are hoping for a strong win to take some of the sting out of the opposition who have questioned the legitimacy of the poll.
In an attempt to allay fears of vote rigging, Putin has ordered 182,000 webcams to be installed at 91,000 polling stations so the process can be monitored on the Internet.
There have been complaints that state television lionises Putin and that voters have no real choice.
The run-up to the election has seen some of the largest protests during his rule. Some, particularly in urban areas, see him as an authoritarian leader who rules by favouring the elite business community in Russian society.
Others see him as the only person able to rule Russia and bring stability to the world’s biggest energy producer.
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