Putin Declares Victory
Exit polls give him about 60% of vote
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2012 11:30 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2012 1:45 PM CST
Russian woman casts her ballot paper as electoral commission staff looks on in Lomakino, Smolensk region, Russia, Sunday, March 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
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(Newser) – Vladimir Putin declared victory in today's presidential elections after preliminary results and exit polls gave him about 60% of the vote, the BBC reports. "I promised you we would win, and we won," he said, eyes brimming with tears before supporters in central Moscow. "Glory to Russia! ... We proved that no-one can force anything on us." He called the election process "open and honest," but opposition groups claimed fraud and are planning protest rallies in Moscow tomorrow.

Today's less-than-surprising results mean that the Russian strongman will return to the Kremlin for an unprecedented third six-year term. The polls put Putin's margin of victory variously at 58.3% and 59.3%, but either is sufficient to avoid a runoff election, notes Reuters. Official results are due tomorrow. Must have been his unconventional advertising campaign.