There were widespread allegations of fraud in Russia's parliamentary polls in December. In advance of Russia's presidential election Sunday, Russian citizens abroad have been allowed to vote early. This woman casts a ballot in Kyrgyzstan on Feb. 26.
Just three months ago, Russia's parliamentary elections prompted widespread allegations of fraud and drove thousands of protesters into the streets in the days afterward.
The Russian government and government critics both say they are trying to prevent a similar outcome in Sunday's presidential poll.
Valdimir Putin, who has been either the president or the prime minister for the past 12 years, is widely expected to win another six-year term as president. But the credibility of Russian elections is also at stake.
Students at London's Kingston University this week unveiled luxury designs made of bio-degradable materials. There are stilettos made from pistachio shells and coffee beans, a wood-chip corset and a top made from orange peel.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivers a campaign speech during a rally of his supporters in Moscow, Feb. 23. Putin is mounting a vigorous campaign in the face of growing opposition but is expected to win Sunday's presidential elections.
When Russians go to the polls Sunday, they will have several choices for president. But none is a serious threat to Vladimir Putin, who has been the most powerful figure in Russia for the past 12 years.
Boris Makarenko, a longtime observer of Russian politics, says the candidates arrayed against Putin are all more or less part of what Kremlin leaders call "the systemic opposition."
In other words, he says, they are "the tolerable opposition ... which can never even hope of replacing them in the Kremlin."
A Colombian police officer stands guard next to seized Chinese-made AK-47 replicas on Nov. 18, 2009. The guns have become so ubiquitous around the world that Russia's planned redesign may not do much to booster sales.
Thousands of Russians form a 10-mile human chain around a Moscow ring road on Monday during an opposition protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He is expected to win the March 4 presidential elections but is facing growing opposition.
Cars decorated with white ribbons and carnations drove around Moscow's Garden Ring Road in a wet snow this past Sunday, honking cheerfully to the thousands of demonstrators on the sidewalk who formed a human chain around the city.
Elena Korobova was a link in that chain.
"I want to get rid of Putin, because I don't like his policy, I don't like what he's doing for Russia," she says of Vladimir Putin, Russia's current prime minister.