Russians went to the polls Sunday in an election that looks likely to return Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister and former president, to the country’s top job, CNN informs. Opinion polls ahead of the vote showed Putin on track to win the presidency outright, with more than 50% of the vote. If he falls short, a runoff will be held in the coming weeks.Putin faces four other candidates in Sunday’s election, including Russia’s third-richest man, New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. Two other candidates, right-wing Vladimir Zhirinovsky and left-leaning Sergey Mironov have also run and lost in the past.While the result of Sunday’s election looks all but certain, the political environment surrounding it is more different than any other in recent Russian history.Parliamentary elections in December triggered an opposition protest movement, regularly bringing tens of thousands of people to the streets to protest allegations of electoral fraud, challenge Putin’s leadership and demand reform. The demonstrations in the election’s wake were considered, among analysts and political observers, the largest in Russia in the past two decades. Protests are expected again on Monday if Putin is declared Russia’s next president.According to Russia Today, a series of violations have been reported at a polling station in Moscow Region, where some 1,113 people with absentee ballots are alleged to have been using an “electoral merry-go-round” technique. By 3 pm Moscow time, voter turnout across Russia had topped 47 per cent. According to the head of the Moscow city election commission, Valentin Gorbunov, from 15 to 30 observers are currently working at every polling station in the capital.