Millions of Russians began voting across the country to elect regional governors and municipal mayors after a gap of nine years as gubernatorial elections began Sunday.
Direct gubernatorial elections were cancelled in 2004 by President Vladimir Putin, who saw it as encouraging local separatism sentiments, reported Xinhua.
After the parliamentary elections in 2011, mass rallies were held in several Russian cities, with protesters alleging vote fraud and demanded a return to the direct election of governors.
In 2012, five regions voted for their governors directly.
On Sunday, more than 3,300 polling stations opened in Moscow, with some 7,000 web cameras installed to prevent voting fraud.
Over 42,000 police officers were deployed to ensure security of the vote, authorities said.
Sergei Sobyanin, acting mayor of Moscow, who resigned this summer, faces protest leader Alexei Navalny.
Other candidates in Moscow include Ivan Melnikov of the Communist Party, Liberal-Democrat Mikhail Degtyarev, Yabloko Party Chairman Sergei Mitrokhin and Nikolai Levichev.