Russians are voting in a series of elections to elect governors, regional assemblies, mayors and local councillors.
As many as 75 million people are eligible to vote.However, political commentators believe turnout will be low with the liberal parties under pressure following a surge of patriotic fervor in the wake of events in Ukraine.
Voters in parts of recently annexed Crimea and Sevastopol are also heading for the ballot box.
In Simferpol, formally part of Ukraine, the electorate appeared eager to vote:
“I have come here early to vote before I go to work. I have a feeling of joy. We want the new life, a better life,” said one woman.
There is growing pessimism amongst opposition parties as power becomes ever more concentrated in Putin’s United Russia and political dissent falls out of earshot.