Environmental activist and Khimki mayoral candidate Yevgenia Chirikova, left, Russian socialite and TV host turned opposition activist Ksenia Sobchak, right, daughter of the late St. Petersburg mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, walk in the park in Khimki ouside Moscow, Saturday Oct. 6, 2012. Chirikova's campaign to lead the booming town of Khimki is seen as a test of the elect ability of the opposition and a sign of whether President Vladimir Putin is willing to tolerate dissent outside of the confines of the capital. The Kremlin has marginalised opposition figures, limiting access to media and painting them as big-city malcontents out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Russians. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
KHIMKI, Russia — Russians are casting ballots in local elections that offer a degree of political competition but still remain tightly controlled by President Vladimir Putin's government.
One of the most visible races Sunday is that for mayor of the town of Khimki, just outside Moscow.
Opposition activist Yevgenia Chirikova, who played a major role in the massive winter protests against Putin's rule, is challenging the incumbent mayor. She has complained of an uneven playing field, saying authorities tried to thwart her meetings with voters and put up other obstacles.
Chirikova won fame a few years ago by campaigning to save a local forest from being chopped down to build a highway. She lost that battle to powerful commercial interests, but has since become a prominent opposition figure.