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Putin Wins Landslide Re-Election

Moscow, 15 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- President Vladimir Putin has won a landslide re-election victory in Russia's presidential election.

With preliminary results showing him winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Putin pledged in televised remarks early today to maintain economic growth and defend democratic principles during his second four-year term.

Putin pledged his government would strengthen Russian civil society, protect media freedoms, and ensure the stable growth of the national economy.

"I want to assure you and I promise you that I will work during the next four years at the same pace [as during my first term]. I will do everything in my power so that the government works with equal effectiveness. I promise you that all of our people's democratic accomplishments will of course be secured and guaranteed."

Trailing far behind Putin in the vote were Communist Party candidate Nikolai Kharitonov, with more than 14 percent; nationalist Sergei Glazev, with about 4 percent; and liberal Irina Khakamada, with less than 4 percent.

Nationwide voter turnout was put at 61 percent. Authorities reported that in the war-torn Russian republic of Chechnya, turnout was nearly 90 percent among the republic's nearly 600,000 voters.

There were no reports of serious breaches of electoral laws during the voting, but Western observers have faulted Russian media for unfairly giving too little coverage to Putin's opponents during the election campaign.

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