MOSCOW — Russian citizens eligible to vote in the presidential elections living in the country’s easternmost regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka, began casting ballots to vote for the next president on Sunday.
The vote will last for a total of 22 hours, spanning from Kamchatka and Chukotka in the East to the westernmost enclave of Kaliningrad, will be heading to polls on Sunday.
Polling stations opened at 8 am local time (8 pm GMT on March 17) in Russia’s Far East, state television reported.
Overall, 97,000 polling stations, 400 of them located abroad, are hosting the elections. Over 108 million citizens in Russia and nearly 2 million outside are eligible to take part in the vote.
Some 30,000 Russians have already cast an early ballot vote from abroad, Russia’s Electoral Commission said. It is expected that the majority of those who live in foreign countries or happened to be outside Russia on the day of the presidential ballot will be able to vote on Sunday.
Opinion polls give Vladimir Putin, the incumbent President, support of around 70 percent, or nearly 10 times the backing of his nearest challenger. Another term will take him to nearly a quarter century in power — a longevity among Kremlin leaders second only to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Many voters credit Putin, a 65-year-old former KGB spy, with standing up for Russia’s interests in a hostile outside world, even though the cost is confrontation with the West.
The voting procedure will be monitored by about 1,500 international observers from 109 countries.
The eight candidates running for the election are incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who participates as an independent candidate, Vladimir Zhirinovsky from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and businessman Pavel Grudinin nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF).
Other candidates include Grigory Yavlinsky from Yabloko party, leader of the Party of Growth Boris Titov, head of the Russian All-People Union Sergey Baburin, TV host Ksenia Sobchak and head of the Communists of Russia Maxim Suraikin.
19 killed in Islamist militant attack on Nigerian village
MAIDUGURI— At least 19 people have been killed in an Islamist militant attack on a village in northeast Nigeria, a survivor of the attack said.
The militants attacked the village of Mailari in the Guzamala region of Borno state at around 2 am Sunday, according to the survivor, Abatcha Umar.
The strike is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat insurgencies by the Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram group and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA).
Umar said he had counted 19 people killed. However,an aid worker at a camp that received the survivors, and who declined to be identified, put the death toll at 63.
The Islamist militants had been spotted around the village three days before their attack, said Umar. Locals had warned Nigerian troops stationed in the nearby town of Gudumbali, but no action was taken, he said.
In recent months, the military has suffered its heaviest defeats in years, commanders have been repeatedly replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied.Follow @gorkhapost