MOSCOW: Monitored by web cameras and a network of volunteer civilian observers, Russians voted Sunday in presidential elections expected to return Mr Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin.
By midday in Moscow, the independent elections watchdog group had recorded more than 1,000 complaints of irregularities across the country, ranging from questionable voter registration lists to nonfunctioning web cameras to buses believed to be carrying so-called "carousel voters" from precinct to precinct.
The veracity of the complaints could not immediately be determined, but their large number is likely to bolster opposition supporters' suspicion that the election was unfair.
Allegations of widespread vote fraud in last December's parliamentary elections set off an unprecedented wave of massive protests against Mr Putin, who has remained Russia's paramount leader despite stepping down from president to prime minister four years ago due to term limits.
The protests, the largest public show of anger in post-Soviet Russia, demonstrate growing frustration with corruption and political ossification in Mr Putin's Russia. But despite the increased dismay, opinions polls have shown Mr Putin positioned to easily defeat four other candidates and return to the post he held in 2000-2008.
Mr Putin presided over a significant growth in Russia's prosperity and growing stability that contrasted with the disorder and anxiety of the 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin led Russia's emergence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union.