The Kazakh opposition has denounced the election, which is being held two years early, as a farce and called for a voter boycott.
Riot police have violently blocked attempts by opposition supporters to hold a protest in downtown Baku.
The former president of Russia's Tatarstan Republic, Mintimer Shaimiyev, says the ruling United Russia party must make changes to its ethnic policies to be successful in future elections.
Protesters in Syria are planning funerals for eight people in Douma, near Damascus, where police opened fire on a pro-reform demonstration on April 1.
The UN's nuclear watchdog says that radiation measured at a village 40 kilometers from Japan's crippled nuclear plant is falling daily, two days after warning the level exceeded a criterion for evacuation.
U.S. President Barack Obama said "the desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry."
Suicide bombers wearing burqas have attacked a NATO base on the outskirts of Kabul, lightly wounding three soldiers.
Libyan government forces have continued their unrelenting campaign of shelling and sniper fire aimed at driving rebels from Misurata, the main city they hold in western Libya.
There has been fierce fighting in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan between the forces of UN-recognized President Alassane Ouattara and those loyal to his rival, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.
Human rights groups and the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijani say they are concerned by a government crackdown on opposition leaders and rights activists ahead of a planned opposition protest in Baku.
A Belarusian opposition activist facing trial for participating in "mass unrest" in Minsk in December has reportedly fled the country.
Some 100 Kazakh activists have rallied in Astana demanding voters be given a "none of the above" option in the April 3 presidential election.