Polls open across Russian Federation

Polls open across Russian Federation

He also added that it was not that hard to vote for his candidacy as he is confident that the course he is suggesting for the country in his election program is the right one.

Earlier on Sunday, the polling stations opened in Moscow and across central Russian Federation for the presidential elections.

Unlike the last time Putin faced voters, this time he faces no serious opposition movement, and has strengthened his domestic support through his actions in Ukraine and Syria.

He faced seven minor candidates on the ballot.

Voters were casting ballots across the world's largest country, from the Pacific coast to Siberia and Moscow.

He has deployed more than 30,000 observers to monitor the polls and on Sunday, his team - which calls the vote "a staged procedure to re-appoint Putin" - began publishing a rolling list of violations from polling stations.

Russian election officials moved quickly Sunday to respond to some of the violations. They included discrepancies in ballot numbers, ballot boxes placed out of sight of observation cameras and last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout.

Ella Pamfilova, head of the commission organising the vote nationwide, has said any fraud will be stamped out.

The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.

"All those so-called "European observers - they are as much observers as other candidates in these elections are "rivals" to Putin", Navalny told VOA". By 5pm Moscow time, authorities said turnout had hit almost 52 per cent. He said his bosses haven't asked for proof of voting but he fears they will. But reports emerged Saturday that local and state officials have still received orders "from higher-ups" to ensure a strong voter turnout.

"They are using everything: schools, kindergartens, hospitals - the battle for the turnout is unprecedented", he said.

Russians voting are expected to give him an easy victory.

"People are put in a situation where they have no-one to choose from", he said.

Aid convoy prepares to enter Syria's eastern Ghouta
Another from Hammouriyeh said militants had attacked somebody who tried raising the Syrian flag there in recent weeks. He added that large numbers of people have now been squeezed into the small areas held by rebels in eastern Ghouta .

"Once again we were subject to pressure at just the moment when we needed to mobilise", Andrei Kondrashkov was reported to have said.

"The fact is that these were sanctions that were passed overwhelmingly, I think the vote was 98-2 in the Senate, last July and there was a lot of complaints from the Republicans as well as Democrats, 'Why hadn't the President actually imposed these sanctions that have been authorized by Congress?'"

"What's the point? We already know the outcome".

Addressing an enthusiastic crowd of mostly young supporters, Sobchak said the Party of Change that she will lead together with former lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov would seek to unite pro-reform forces.

The presidential vote was set on the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, which dramatically bolstered Putin's popularity.

The final election results Monday showed that Putin won 76.6% of the vote, his highest score ever.

Current Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the polling station where he usually casts his vote.

Turnout-boosting efforts have been the most visible feature of the campaign. First-time voters were promised concert tickets at some other polling stations in Moscow, according to the Associated Press, and cities in Siberia are giving away Apple Watches, cars and GoPro cameras as part of similar publicity campaigns, Radio Free Europe reported.

In the southern city of Tambov, the state-sponsored Youth Parliament has backed an Instagram competition. Voters who took selfies at polling stations could enter a raffle for high-end electronics, including an iPhone X.

The Central Election Commission has allocated more than $13 million to publicize the election.

The president has traveled across Russian Federation, pledging to raise wages, pour more funds into crumbling health care and education and modernize dilapidated infrastructure.

In spite, of this a lackluster campaign period, the 65-year-old President comes as a clear front-runner. Some see Sobchak, the daughter of Putin's one-time patron, as a Kremlin project meant to add a democratic veneer to the vote and help split the ranks of Kremlin critics.

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