Putin claims ‘honest and open’ victory
Opponents report election violations despite monitors
MOSCOW | Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared victory in Sunday’s presidential election, which was marred by complaints of election violations and voter fraud.
Mr. Putin said the election was “open and honest” as he addressed thousands of supporters outside the Kremlin.
“We have won in an open and honest battle,” he said in tearful remarks, with outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev standing next to him. “I promised you we would win. We won. Glory to Russia.”
Mr. Putin held the presidency for two four-year terms from 2000 to 2008, but stepped down to become prime minister because the Russian Constitution prohibited him from seeking a third consecutive term. His new term will be for six years because of a change in the election law.
Exit polls showed Mr. Putin leading with 58.3 percent of the vote, well beyond the 50 percent benchmark needed to avoid a second round of voting, Russia’s state-run pollster VTSIOM reported.
Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov followed with 17.7 per-