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Polls open across Russia

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Polls open across Russia

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Polls opened across Russia on Sunday as President Vladimir Putin eyes six more years in office.

Russians voting are expected to give him an easy victory.

Authorities have invested in a massive get-out-the-vote efforts to produce a turnout that would embolden the Russian leader both domestically and internationally.

Opinion polls give Putin, the required support of around 70 percent, or nearly 10 times the backing of his nearest challenger.

Many voters credit the 65-year-old former KGB spy, with standing up for Russia's interests in what they view as a hostile outside world

Another term will take him to nearly a quarter of a century in power, a longevity among Kremlin leaders second only to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Residents of Crimea also cast their ballots as the elections coincide with the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

Polls show that most Russians continue to see the annexation of Crimea as a major achievement despite subsequent Western sanctions.

Ukraine security forces surround Russian facilities amid anger of the Ukrainian government's refusal to allow ordinary Russians to vote.