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MOSCOW, March 5 (Itar-Tass) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won the presidential race in the first round, gaining support of 63.74 percent of voters. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov comes second with 17.19 percent. The third in the race is self-nominated businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, with 7.84 percent of votes. He is outscoring leader of the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 6.23 percent.
Leader of the A Just Russia party Sergei Mironov is finishing in last place, with 3.85 percent of votes.
The presidential election will be remembered as a race with a high turnout, vast ranks of observers and innovations – web-cameras at polling stations. Moreover, much less violations than those at the December parliamentary elections were registered this time. Mass absentee voting tops the list of major complaints. Businessman Mikhail Prokhorov caused a sensation as a political newcomer finishing third in the race.
The elections to the lower house of parliament, which returns remain debatable, not only demonstrated that the United Russia party finally lost its authority, but also exerted a drastic effect on the presidential race, the Novye Izvestiya daily wrote. Unexpectedly it turned out that Russia has a civil society that made its voice heard through street protests and pre-election activity. These citizens forced the authorities spoiled by the tandemocracy to make one more step towards real democracy. Web-cameras and transparent ballot boxes appeared at polling stations and over one million observers expressed their position with more confidence.
The presidential election on March 4 registered no more violations than those reported during the State Duma elections last December, the Kommersant business daily reported. Judging by the information from the presidential candidates’ regional headquarters and observers no new tricks were devised. Independent observers say “carousel voting” in which voters were bused around to cast several ballots is the most popular violation. According to official reports of the regional election commissions, the election took place in a calm atmosphere, no serious violations were reported.
Observers from Golos, Russia’s leading independent elections watchdog, described “carousel voting” as “the most widespread violation,” the daily reported. At every polling station the so-called carousel voters had different “identification marks”: they inserted calendars, saving bank books into their passports or clipped the passport’s pages. Ballot stuffing is one more trick used at the Sunday voting. Moreover, some voters were paid to vote and even the cases of buying up ballot papers took place.
The election saw an unprecedentedly high number of observers from parties and public organizations, Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported. International observers registered no serious violations during the voting.
Despite gloomy forecasts no evident rows over multiple violations that forced the society to explode last December were reported, the RBK daily wrote. The main claim laid by all candidates and even number one candidate was mass absentee voting by groups of workers and even by whole companies. The Central Election Commission fought back against claims by making statements, while people had fun watching on-line voting from web cameras installed at polling stations at the prime minister’s instructions. The election headquarters admitted that this time all candidates used an opportunity to bus their voters to polling stations.
The turnout proved sensational. Already in the afternoon election commissions fixed high voter turnout, which was unusual for recent election campaigns.
Vladimir Putin described the campaign not simply as election, but as a test for independence that had been passed by the nation, Kommersant reported. The prime minister called his victory honest. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said the election was “illegitimate, unfair and non-transparent.” Businessman Mikhail Prokhorov also criticized the race. However, the Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia told the daily that the election campaign was fairer than the last year’s parliamentary polls.
The Sunday election demonstrated high turnout and transparency, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. Many observers monitored the ballot casting. First reports about violations appeared early in the morning. Vladimir Putin’s victory seemed inevitable. Against this backdrop many citizens told reporters that they cast their ballots for Mikhail Prokhorov. At the same time Prokhorov gained support not only among young, but also among elderly voters. It is worth noting that Prokhorov as a new face in the election campaign can meet hopes and demands of a significant number of the so-called angered citizens – the creative class.