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Russian Voters Head to Polls - 2004-03-13

Polls have opened in Russia's Far East in national elections expected to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a resounding victory.

The first polling stations opened in Kamchatka and Chukotka just as Muscovites, eleven times zones away, were going to bed.

Voting will last for nearly 24 hours until polling stations are due to close in westernmost Kaliningrad Sunday night.

The first exit polls are expected immediately afterward and will most likely show incumbent president Vladimir Putin with the lead. He is expected to garner over 60 percent of the vote in Russia's third presidential election since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He faces five challengers, none of whom has mustered more than single-digit support.

The only real suspense is whether more than 50 percent of Russia's 109 million registered voters will turn out to cast ballots in order for the election to be declared valid.