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>> Vladmir Putin is on track for victory in Russia's presidential election, but voter turnout could yet sour this unsurprising outcome. Votes have been cast inside train stations, in annexed Crimea, and in Moscow by Putin himself. Opinion polls suggest that he could secure about 70% of the vote, or nearly ten times, that of his nearest rival.
But this election is not just about the winning, it's also about the taking part. Kremlin authorities want to see at least 70% of Russians voting, they see turnout as a vital barometer of legitimacy. Putin's opponents claim employers with close ties to the state have been ordering their staff to go out and vote and send back proof.
In January, a leaked Kremlin document said prizes would be on offer for the best selfies taken at polling stations. The election commission says turn out is higher than the 2012 presidential election, but the leader of the opposition, Alexei Nalvany, disagrees, he claims it's lower. Navalny was barred from running due to a corruption conviction that he says was fabricated by the Kremlin.
He's urged his supporters to boycott the vote and stage a post-election protest if there is any solid evidence of fraud. Some independent observers monitoring the election online have cried foul. And shared video links on social media in which voters raise suspicions of ballot stuffing. The head of the Election Commission said that any fraud would be stamped out.
And those already alleging that the election was rigged were biased and peddling Russophobia. Echoing a line used by the Kremlin to describe western criticism of Russia.