Timothy Heritage and Guy Faulconbridge
March 4, 2012
Vladimir Putin won a resounding victory in Russia’s presidential election on Sunday, exit polls showed, securing a new six-year term in the Kremlin and a mandate to deal with opposition protests after a vote that opponents said was marred by fraud.
Two television exit polls, released after voting ended at 1700 GMT, forecast the prime minister would win 59.3 and 58.3 percent of the votes, easily enough to make a runoff against the second-placed candidate unnecessary.
His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, fell short of 20 percent in both exit polls. Zyuganov said his party would not recognize the official results of the election, calling it “illegitimate, dishonest and untransparent.”
Putin’s swiftly dismissed fraud allegations, which will be repeated at opposition protests starting on Monday.