Landslide win for Putin in Russia’s presidential poll

Russian President Vladimir Putin is heading for a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential polls with 76.65% of the vote after 99% of ballots were counted, Tass said citing Russian Central Election Commission (CEC).

Putin was followed by CPRF candidate Pavel Grudinin who won 12.30% of votes. LDPR candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky emerged as third with 5.98% of votes. None of the other five candidates is likely to get more than 2% of the vote.

Earlier, addressing a gathering at  Red Square shortly after exit poll results were announced, Putin said the election victory is a sign of people’s confidence and hope in him. But there are challenges ahead and everyone will have to work hard for the future of Russia’s children, he said.

Putin ended his brief but powerful speech by chanting “Russia” along the crowd.

Putin was first elected to the Kremlin in 2000 and again four years later. He did not run in 2008 as constitutional norms allow only two consecutive terms for the same president. The same year, presidential terms were extended from four years to six years.

Putin won 63.6% of the vote in 2012. He will now stay in power until 2024.

Ella Pamfilova, head of CEC, said apart from some local complaints, no major violations of the election code were reported.

Western media disputed this view. The Associated Press said the vote was “tainted by widespread reports of ballot-box stuffing and forced voting” and the complaints are unlikely to undermine Putin.

While Deputy Chairman of the CEC Nikolai Bulayev put the voter turnout at 63.7%, The Washington Post said Russian authorities boosted the figure as a “lack of suspense or popular opposition candidates threatened to keep people home.”