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Putin to win polls in first round: Exit poll

MOSCOW: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin got 58.3 percent of the vote at Sunday\'s presidential elections in Russia which was enough for victory, a state-run exit poll said. His near

Published: 05th March 2012 12:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:29 PM   |  A+A-

MOSCOW: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin got 58.3 percent of the vote at Sunday's presidential elections in Russia which was enough for victory, a state-run exit poll said.

His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, took 17.7 percent of the vote, state pollster VTsIOM said.

"I cannot recognise these elections as fair, honest and worthy," Zyuganov said. "I see no reason to congratulate anyone."

No other candidate got more than 10 percent.

Leading pollster FOM gave Putin 59.3 percent and Zyuganov 18.2 percent.

A candidate has to gain over 50 percent to avoid a run-off.

Election officials said just over 58 percent of voters had cast their ballots by 6 p.m.

The first preliminary official results are expected by Sunday midnight or early Monday.

If the results of the exit polls are confirmed, Putin, 59, will be inaugurated as new president in May and will serve for six years, not four as previously.

Putin was president between 2000 and 2008, but was forced to step down by the Constitution, when he handed over to his hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

The elections took place against the backdrop of mass demonstrations that were triggered by allegations of vote fraud in favour of Putin's United Russia party at December's parliamentary polls.

None of the candidates opposing Putin represented the burgeoning protest movement, although all have -- to some extent -- expressed sympathy with its demands, which include a rerun of last year's vote.

There was a heavy police presence in Moscow, with trucks full of riot police parked near major metro stations.

Putin voted with his wife, Lyudmila, at a polling station at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"I had a good sleep, did some exercise, and then came here," he said. "I'm hoping for a good turnout, of course."

Shortly after Putin left, topless activists with the words "I steal for Putin" painted on their breasts burst into the polling station shouting anti-government slogans. The women - who said they were from the Ukrainian Femen protest group - were detained by police.

Zyuganov said he had received reports of alleged electoral violations, but urged people planning to take part in protests set for Monday "to show restraint and comply with the law".

Election officials said no major violations took place during the vote.

But Russia's largest independent election watchdog, Golos, listed on its website almost 3,000 violations. These could not be verified.

Putin had ordered web cameras at 91,000 of Russia's 96,000 polling stations in an attempt to prevent the elections being marred by more vote fraud allegations.

Around 700 international observers were in Russia to monitor the elections.

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