Polls: Putin Wins Russia Presidential Elections Despite Claims of Widespread Fraud

Many voters tell Haaretz they see no point in casting vote; reports of election fraud describe double and even triple votes in the 91,000 voting stations across the country.

MOSCOW - Exit polls in Russia indicate that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has won 58.3 percent of the votes in the presidential elections on Sunday. According to the polls, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, received 17 percent, and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov won 9.2 percent.

Putin served two terms as president from 2000-2008. He received 71 percent support when re-elected in 2004.

Reports of election fraud flooded the blogosphere, describing systematic double and even triple votes in the 91,000 voting stations across the country. Bloggers reported that people were driven from ballot to ballot to vote multiple times, including one woman who said she was paid 5,000 rubles to use a special certificate to vote outside of her home district.

Putin, 59, ran on a platform of political stability, economic development and military rearmament.

Although voter turnout surpassed that of the 2008 elections, many voters told Haaretz that they see no point in casting their vote. Tatiana Andreeva, a pensioner who came to vote at polling station number 298, did not show too much enthusiasm when she glanced at the billboard showcasing the different candidates. When she cast her ballot, she said, "I voted for Gennady Zyuganov (the Communist). I don't like him, but how many times can I vote for Putin? I even protested against him. Every day they scare us with threats of instability."

Another Moscow resident, an unemployed man who spent a year and a half in prison for theft, said none of his family members voted in the election. "There is no one to vote for," he said. "And I am sure that if Putin were to lose, they would arrest him the next day – he has made that many enemies."