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Putin Declared Official Winner Of Presidential Poll

Vladimir Putin addresses his supporters during a rally on Manezh Square near the Kremlin in Moscow after presidential polls closed on March 4.
Vladimir Putin addresses his supporters during a rally on Manezh Square near the Kremlin in Moscow after presidential polls closed on March 4.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been declared the official winner of Russia's presidential election, taking 63.75 percent of the vote.

The head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Churov, announced the result at a press conference in Moscow early on March 5, after more than 99 percent of the votes from the election have been counted.

"According to preliminary results, Vladimir Putin has won more than 45,109,000 votes, which is 63.75 percent of all votes," he said.

Churov said turnout in the March 4 election was 65.3 percent of the 110 million eligible voters.

Putin is now set to return to the presidency after serving a maximum two consecutive terms from 2000 to 2008, followed by the past four years as prime minister.

He is to be inaugurated in May, and his next presidential mandate will be six years.

Election Questioned

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who finished second in the election, has denounced the vote as "illegitimate," with the results skewed by authorities in favor of Putin, while independent monitoring groups say they recorded thousands of electoral violations.

The official results came after Putin declared victory on the evening of March 4.

Appearing before an estimated 100,000 supporters in Moscow's Manezh Square, Putin, declared he had achieved a "clean victory" in the election.

"We have won in an honest and fair battle," he said. "But these were not only the elections of Russia's president. This was a very important test for all of us, for all our people."

Putin, who appeared to shed a tear while addressing the crowd, said he was not ashamed to show that he was emotional about his victory.

Overtures To Opposition?

In an apparent bid to reach out to the opposition, the Kremlin announced on March 5 that outgoing President Dmitri Medvedev has ordered a review of the legality of the conviction of jailed former Yukos oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky is considered an imprisoned dissident by international human rights groups, including Amnesty International.

Independent foreign monitors were expected to give an initial evaluation of the election later on March 5.

The Central Election Commission on Monday said Communist Party leader Zyuganov received just over 17 percent of the vote, followed by Mikhail Prokhorov with 7.82, Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 6.23 and Sergei Mironov 3.85 percent.

However, in Moscow results showed Putin receiving just over 47 percent, followed by Prokhorov with 20 percent and Zyuganov with 19 percent.

Opposition figures and independent monitors claimed there have been thousands of reports of violations, including numerous reports of ballot-box stuffing and so-called "carousel" voting -- when voters cast ballots repeatedly at different polling stations.
Opposition leaders say they expect tens of thousands of people to rally in Moscow later on March 5 to protest the election result.

The protest has been approved by authorities, but will take place amid heavy security.

With reporting by dpa, AFP, Reuters

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