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Golos said monitors had recorded fewer obvious violations than during the December election, but they still believe that violations are extensive. This time, election officials are using more complicated and subtle methods, Golos Deputy Director Grigory Melkonyants said.

According to data based on official figures from polling stations attended by Golos observers, Mr. Putin still garnered some 55 percent of the vote, while Mr. Zyuganov won about 19 percent.

Mr. Prokhorov said on Channel One television after the vote that authorities kept his observers away from some polling stations and were beaten on two occasions.

Ivan Melnikov, a deputy chief of the Communist Party, said the “vote was neither free nor fair.” He claimed that the authorities set up numerous additional polling stations and alleged that hundreds of thousands of voters cast ballots at the ones in Moscow alone in an apparent attempt to rig the vote.

Oksana Dmitriyeva, a Duma deputy from Just Russia party, tweeted that party members were witnessing “numerous cases of observers being expelled from polling stations” across St. Petersburg just before the vote count.

Unlike Moscow and other big cities, where independent observers showed up en masse, election officials in Russia’s North Caucasus and other regions were largely left to their own devices. The opposition said those regions have experienced particularly massive vote rigging in the past.

A Web camera at a polling station in Dagestan, a Caucasus province near Chechnya, registered unidentified people tossing ballot after ballot into boxes. The Central Election Commission quickly responded to the video, which was posted on the Internet, saying the results from the station will be invalidated.

Web cameras were installed in Russia’s more than 90,000 polling stations, a move initiated by Mr. Putin in response to complaints of ballot stuffing and fraudulent counts in December’s parliamentary elections.

It was unclear Sunday to what extent the cameras would be effective in recording voting irregularities or questionable counts. The election observation mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe noted skepticism in a report on election preparations.

“This is not an election … it is an imitation,” said Boris Nemtsov, a prominent opposition leader.

But despite the increased resentment against Mr. Putin‘s rule among the rising middle class, opinion polls ahead of the vote showed Mr. Putin positioned to win easily. He presided over significant economic growth and gave Russians a sense of stability that contrasted with the disorder and anxiety of the 1990s, when Boris Yeltsin led Russia’s emergence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union.

“Under Boris Nikolayevich, life was simply a nightmare, but, you know, now it’s OK. Now it’s good, I’m happy with the current situation,” said 51-year-old Alexander Pshennikov, who cast his ballot for Mr. Putin at a Moscow polling station.

The police presence was heavy throughout the city on Sunday. There were no immediate reports of trouble, although police arrested three young women who stripped to the waist at the polling station where Mr. Putin cast his ballot; one of them had the word “thief” written on her bare back.

Jim Heintz, Lynn Berry, Maria Danilova, Nataliya Vasilyeva, Mansur Mirovalev and Sofia Javed in Moscow and Sergei Venyavsky in Rostov-on-Don contributed to this report.