Polls have opened in Russia's Far East regions for the presidential election in which Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term in the Kremlin.
Voting started at 8 a.m. Sunday (2000 GMT Saturday; 4 p.m. EDT Saturday) in Russia's Chukotka and Kamchatka regions. Voting concludes at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT; 2 p.m. EDT Sunday) in Kaliningrad, the Baltic exclave that is Russia's westernmost region.
With Putin guaranteed to win another term despite facing seven challengers, authorities are conducting get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a good turnout. Some Russian workers say they are coming under intense pressure to prove to their employers that they have voted.
Voters in Russia's Perm region say they are coming under pressure from their employers to vote in Sunday's presidential election - and to prove it.
The Associated Press viewed messages sent Friday to multiple regional employees, urging them to fulfill their civic duty and report on when and where they voted. One message said employers would keep a running tally of the information and submit it to management.
An employee in Perm's regional administration says similar messages were sent to staff members in regional education, sports and administrative institutions. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears repercussions from his employers if he speaks publicly about the electoral pressure.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin guaranteed to win another term, authorities are conducting get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a good turnout.
- By Francesca Ebel in Moscow
A Russian election monitoring group is warning that independent observers may be targeted by an "attack" on voting day.
Grigory Melkonyants, co-chair of the independent Golos center, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the group has come under increasing pressure as the elections approach.
He said the group has registered an "alarming" rise in recent days in complaints that employers are forcing or pressuring workers to vote. He described an "unprecedented" amount of money spent on getting out the vote.
With President Vladimir Putin overwhelmingly expected to win another term, authorities are fighting voter apathy and seeking to encourage high turnout.
Melkonyants said "We are worried that there could be some kind of provocation ... I fear that independent observers will become objects of such an attack." He didn't elaborate.
As U.S. authorities investigate alleged Russian interference in President Donald Trump's election, Moscow has warned of possible meddling in the Russian vote.
Russian voters, observers and eight presidential candidates are gearing up for an election that will undoubtedly hand Vladimir Putin another six-year term.
The outcome in Sunday's vote is so certain that authorities are investing in get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a decent turnout.
Candidates are barred from campaigning Saturday. Voting starts in the Russian far east near Alaska and wraps up in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.
More than 1,500 international observers are joining thousands of Russian observers to watch the vote. The government wants to ensure elections are clean after ballot stuffing and fraud marred the last presidential election in 2012.
Unlike the last time Putin faced voters, this time he faces no serious opposition movement, and has strengthened his domestic support through his actions in Ukraine and Syria.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.