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.
Credit Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP/Getty Images
Russian presidential candidate and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov addresses his supporters while campaigning in Moscow, Feb. 29. He is a three-time loser in the presidential race who is seen as a hidebound traditionalist.
Credit Ivan Sekretarev / AP
Russian billionaire and presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov speaks with Russian voters at the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow, Feb. 25. The 46-year-old commands the support of anti-Putin protesters and is running American-style campaign events around Russia.
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."