Mar 3 - Villagers in Russia prepare for Sunday's presidential elections, though some believe little will change. Sunita Rappai reports.
Russia's snowy Smolensk region - some 220 miles from capital Moscow. Here, as in the rest of the country, preparations are underway for Sunday's presidential poll - widely expected to return Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin to his old role. With many polling stations in villages housed in old wooden houses like this, one of the first tasks is clearing a path to the entrance. Some residents, like Valentina Minchenkova, are upbeat about the elections. She says she's watched all the TV debates and isn't sure who to vote for since all the candidates are good and handsome. Others like Victor Nikolayevich, are more pragmatic. SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VILLAGE RESIDENT VIKTOR NIKOLAYEVICH, SAYING: "These are not the first elections, and they won't be the last ones. Elections are just elections, so what? I think over the past 20 years little has changed, very little." He thinks that Russia's villages will remain the same. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) VILLAGE RESIDENT VIKTOR NIKOLAYEVICH, SAYING: "Whoever gets elected, the villages will remain abandoned, I think. They probably even don't know the villages exist at all." Polls suggest Putin will win the election with around two-thirds of the vote. His closest rival, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, is forecast to win just 15 per cent. Sunita Rappai, Reuters