Former President Vladimir Putin, who announced yesterday that he will run again next year, is likely to win. But falling oil prices may create social discontent – and push him to make political reforms.
In weekend voting for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics mascot, Russians chose a wide-eyed, snowboard-toting leopard. But many claim the vote was rigged to ensure Prime Minister Putin's favored mascot would win.
The same day it hosted the finals of the 42-nation singing contest, police quashed a gay rights parade.
Polls indicate more than two-thirds of voters plan to vote for Vladimir Putin's longtime aide, despite little campaigning.
Frustration is deep over Western support for independence that Russia sees as destabilizing and against international law.
The Russian president hinted for the first time, however, that the balance of power shift in his favor if he becomes prime minister.
The race to replace Vladimir Putin officially starts Saturday, but Mr. Putin's handpicked successor has declined to campaign or publicly debate his opponents.
President Putin's chosen successor, he kicked off his campaign Tuesday with a Kremlin-sponsored speech.