MOSCOW (AP) -- Polling stations have opened across Russia's vast
expanse for the presidential election widely expected to return
Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin.
Sunday's election comes in the wake of a series of massive
protest rallies sparked by alleged fraud in December's
parliamentary elections. Although the protests were the largest
public show of discontent in post-Soviet Russia, opinion polls show
Putin far ahead of four other candidates, with enough support to
easily win in the first round.
Since the December ballot, Russia's more than 90,000 voting
stations have been fitted out with web cameras to monitor voting
and ballot counting. Tens of thousands of people have volunteered
to be election observers.
Putin was president in 2000-2008, but has spent the past four
years as prime minister because of a constitutional limit of two
consecutive terms for a president.