Putin Declares Presidential Victory

THE GRAND KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW. President Pu...

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Vladimir Putin declared victory in Russia’s presidential contest on Sunday.

With 22% of the ballots counted, Putin had 62.88% of the vote. His closest challenger, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, had 17.42%.

Mr. Putin served two terms as president, from 2000 to 2008, but a limit of two consecutive terms forced him to step down. He has dominated Russian politics as prime minister since.

While the result of Sunday’s election looked all but certain, the political environment surrounding it is different from any other in recent Russian history.

Parliamentary elections in December triggered a protest movement, bringing tens of thousands of people to the streets to protest electoral fraud and Mr. Putin’s leadership.

In the run-up to Sunday’s voting, Putin’s spokesman played down the public protests over the past three months.

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