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Early Elections Start In Russia

A Putin supporter in Moscow in February

A Putin supporter in Moscow in February

Starting on February 17, early presidential elections are being held in remote areas of the vast country.

Russia's Central Election Commission (TsIK) said there were 36 places in the country where voting would be held before the scheduled March 4 national elections.

The TsIK said that almost all the places the early poll was being conducted were in the Far East, Siberia, the Ural Mountains, and northern territories.

Among those the TsIK said were eligible to vote as of February 17 were reindeer herders in the north, lighthouse operators, Arctic researchers, and the crews of some 170 vessels out at sea.

The TsIK mentioned these represented only a little more than 1 percent of eligible voters.

It also said there was a "significant" expense to these voters' participation, since polling station workers must go to them using helicopters, snowmobiles, or even sleighs pulled by animals.

The early elections end on March 3.

The rest of Russia goes to the polls in an election that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily despite protests by opposition groups calling for Putin to leave the Russian government and warning the March 4 election will be rigged.

Compiled from agency reports