Russians voted Sunday in presidential polls set to return strongman Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin for an unprecedented third term, as he faced public wrath over allegations of rigging in December's parliamentary elections which was won by his United Russia party.
Voters turned out at 90,000 polling stations across Russia spread over 21 hours for the marathon electoral process, that is being monitored through election observers and over 100,000 webcams.
Sunday's vote sees Putin, the 59-year-old ex-KGB spy, hoping to become president for a third time after swapping role as prime minister with his close aide Dmitry Medvedev.
Putin voted in Moscow with his wife, Ludmila. "I'm expecting a good turnout, because presidential elections are an important event. I am confident that people will act responsibly", he told Russian newspaper Izvestia.
Putin's main challenger is considered to be Communist Gennady Zyuganov, who is running for a fourth time. If Putin fails to achieve more than 50 per cent of the vote he will face his nearest rival in a run-off.
The other candidates are ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, who is standing as an independent, and former upper house speaker Sergey Mironov, from the centre-left A Just Russia party.