Elections in Russia: Putin Claims Presidential Victory

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After four years as prime minister, Vladimir Putin returns to Kremlin as president for a third term. Exit polls and preliminary results gave him more than 60% of the vote.

Putin turned emotional and wept while claiming its victory. “I promised you we would win, and we won. Glory to Russia!”, said Putin with tears in his eyes. It wasn’t a surprise victory given the surveys before the elections that placed the Russian leader way ahead of his competitors.

However, his predicted victory didn’t lacked controversy. The elections were held against a backdrop of popular discontent and allegations of widespread fraud during December’s parliamentary elections in favour of United Russia party, Vladimir Putin’s party.

Trying to avoid any other fraud accusations, Putin ordered the installment of a vast network of webcams at polling stations that broadcasted live on Internet the elections. The $447 million project, meant to be answer to large street demonstrations in December demanding clean elections, didn’t satisfy Putin’s critics. Many voices doubted of Russian prime minister’s good intentions because the cameras didn’t broadcasted also the votes counting. There has been also an iPhone app that allowed poll watchers to report violations to a call center organized by the League of Voters. The app was developed by Moscow programmer Alexei Chistyakov, according to the Guardian.

Observer organizations declared there had been thousands of violations including so-called carousel voting (with busloads of voters being driven around to different polling stations).

The preliminary results, with returns from more than half the polling districts, show Vladimir Putin gaining over 64%. His nearest rival Gennady Zyuganov has about 17%, according to BBC News.

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