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Exit Polls Show Putin's Party In Landslide Win


Russian Exit Polls Show Putin's Party in Landslide Win

Exit polls conducted by Russian state-controlled companies show President Vladimir Putin's party winning more than 60 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections.

The vote projections were released Sunday evening by Russian media, just minutes after the last polling stations closed in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. The communist party was running a distant second with about 12 percent of the vote.

Two other pro-Kremlin parties were shown clearing the seven percent threshold needed under new election laws to qualify for entry into parliament.

Opposition parties have for weeks charged that the controversial seven percent rule and other new election laws virtually guaranteed a majority for Mr. Putin's United Russia party in the 450-seat State Duma.

Critics also note that "United Russia" was the only party allowed to campaign on national television.

Earlier Sunday, after opposition leader Garry Kasparov cast his vote, he accused the ruling party of, in his words, "not just rigging the vote, but raping the whole electoral system." The former chess champion was freed Thursday after completing a five-day jail sentence for taking part in an anti-Putin demonstration.

In Moscow, Antonia Kalistratovna, 79, told VOA she was voting for Mr. Putin's party because everybody recommended doing so. A young medical student, Ilya, said he was voting for the communists, who promised to improve social benefits.

Final, official tallies not due until December 16.

The constitution prohibits Mr. Putin from running for a third consecutive term as president in March. His name is at the head of United Russia's candidate list, indicating he might become prime minister in the next government, retaining much of his power.

ENDS

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