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New Poll Predicts First-Round Putin Victory

Putin is the favorite to win the upcoming presidential election.
Russia's leading independent polling organization has released a new voter survey that projects that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will win the March 4 presidential election in the first round.

The survey by the Levada Center said Putin could receive up to 66 percent of the vote.

The organization said the poll results were based on a nationwide survey of 1,600 potential voters conducted from February 17-20.

Winning the election will give Putin, who has ruled Russia as president and prime minister since 1999, a new six-year term as Kremlin chief.

Putin won the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections in the first round.

There are five candidates in the race, including former Federation Council speaker and A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and billionaire businessman Mikhail Prokhorov.

Yabloko party founder Grigory Yavlinsky was disqualified by the Central Election Commission over what it said were invalid signatures in support of his candidacy.

Based on Reuters and AP reports