Vladimir Putin, Russia's current prime minister and former president, appears set to win a third presidential term in the elections Sunday. Given the absence of strong opponents, the election is widely considered as a one-sided battle in favor of Putin.
Opinion polls ahead of the elections indicated Putin will win the presidency outright with between 59 percent and 66 percent of the vote. Putin, 59, was a KGB agent during the days of the Soviet Union, and he served as Russia's president for two terms from 2000 to 2008.
Russian presidents are not allowed to serve more than two consecutive terms. Putin chose to work under the current President Dmitry Medvedev after completing his two straight terms.
Although Putin is unchallenged by his weak competition in the election, he has had to face growing voter apathy.
Moreover, the parliamentary elections last December set off massive protests across the country with vote-rigging allegations against him.
There is widespread resentment among people who believe that Putin's authoritarian rule has favored the corrupt elite in the power-wielding echelons of the country. His opponents warn that another Putin victory will set off more protests.
Russians have expressed mixed feelings toward Putin, according to a Reuters report. Some expressed anger at the absence of choice in the election, while others felt Putin is a true leader who can protect the country's interests.
Although Putin enjoys strong support in rural Russia, many urban voters view him as a hindrance to development. The announcement of his candidacy for president last September caused anger among many urban voters, who were looking forward to a political change.
However, intensive campaigning by Putin in the last couple of months -- leading him to crisscross the country and promise a better administration and pro-development policies -- has boosted his image.
In an attempt to forestall vote-rigging allegations, Putin ordered 182,000 Webcams to be installed in 91,000 polling stations and for their content to be streamed live content via a Web site, Reuters reported.
In addition, several international election watchdogs and foreign media outlets are also closely observing the elections.