Vladimir Putin to lead Russia for another six years

Moscow, March 19: Russians voted on Sunday in an election that saw Vladimir Putin virtually secure an expected victory in the presidential election by winning 75.91 per cent of votes with 70 per cent of ballots counted, preliminary data from the Central Election Commission (CEC) showed.

So far, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin got 13.39 per cent of the vote, while head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky received 6.34 per cent, reports Xinhua.

In a short speech to thousands of supporters near Red Square late on Sunday, Putin thanked people who voted for him, saying that his election result was "very decent."

According to BBC, the scale of victory -- which had been widely predicted -- was a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64 per cent.

As of 1500 GMT, the voter turnout stood at 59.93 per cent, slightly up from 58.3 percent in 2012, Xinhua quoted the CEC as saying.

Valentina Matvienko, Russian parliament's upper house speaker, said it was "unprecedented" in terms of both the voter turnout and support for Putin during all his tenures.

A Russian state exit poll gave him 73.9 per cent of the vote, easily defeating his closest competitor. Main opposition leader Alexei Navalny was barred from the race.

Earlier in the day, several media reports suggested that the voter turnout in Russian presidential race was set to top 2012 figures.

The turnout was on course to surpass figures registered in the previous ballot in 2012, an official from the electoral committee said.

Nikolay Bulayev of the Central Election Commission said 34 per cent of eligible voters had made their way to polling stations by midday Moscow time, nine hours before counting was due to begin in central Russia.


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