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.
Russian rocket fails in the mid air, crew lands safely
COSMODROME—Booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and US astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed in mid-air on Thursday, forcing the crew to make an emergency landing.
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin landed safely without any harm.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, quoted by Interfax, said the problem occurred when the first and second stages of the booster rocket were in the process of separating.
The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around 1 km away said that it had gone smoothly in its initial stage.
“Search and rescue teams are in the air and heading towards the expected touchdown location for the Soyuz spacecraft returning to Earth carrying two crew members,” NASA said in a statement.
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