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Incumbent Putin wins a largely expected presidential election landslide victory

Vladimir Putin, the incumbent Russian head of state, easily secured a largely expected landslide victory at the March 18 presidential election, receiving 76.69% of the cast ballots, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC)’s final results.A total of over 56.43m Russians voted for Putin, who ran as an independent candidate, according to CECs data, which put the total number of votes cast at almost 73.63m. This represented a turnout of 67.54% from the over 109.84m eligible Russian voters, CEC Chairperson Ella Pamfilova said.


The 76.69% electoral win is higher than the number of votes received by Putin in any of his previous presidential bids.For comparison,about 39.74m people (or about 52.94% of the electorate) voted for him in 2000, when he first took part in the presidential election; more than 49.56m Russians (or 71.31%) voted for him in 2004, while he was supported by slightly more than 45.6m Russians (63.60%) to win the 2012election.

Basking in the record poll victory data, Putin thankedthose that voted for him for their "unprecedented support" and urged all Russians to put their political differences aside and work together in the name of national progress and unity.“It's very important for us to maintain this unity as we tackle the problems and challenges facing our Motherland,” Putin said as the festive crowd responded with repeated chants of "Russia.

Communist Party debutant candidate Pavel Grudinin trailed far behind in the second place with just 11.77%, followed by the Liberal-Democratic Party Founder and Leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, in a distant third with 5.65% of the votes.The other contenders fared even worse, with Ksenia Sobchak, running on the Civil Initiative Party ticket, securing 1.68% (fourth), Yabloko Party Co-Founder and Leader Grigory Yavlinsky with 1.05% (fifth), Party of Growth Chairman Boris Titov with 0.76% (sixth), Communists of Russia Party ChairmanMaxim Suraikin with 0.68% (seventh) and Russian Peoples Union Party Founder and Leader Sergei Baburin rounding up the contenders list with just 0.65% of the votes.

The March 18 elections were "free, competitive and transparent," Pamfilova continued. "Each polling place inRussia had an average offive independent observers present duringthe March 18 Russian presidential election, withthe total observer count this year reaching 356,000 people, she added.

Putin, 65, who has ruled Russia as president or prime minister since 1999, now has the mandate to rule the country till 2024, making him the countrys longest-ruling leader since Josef Stalin.