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Medvedev set for landslide poll victory

Latest update : 2008-03-03

Dmitry Medvedev, presumed winner of Sunday's presidential election with over 68% of the vote, has celebrated with predecessor Vladimir Putin in Moscow's Red Square.

Dmitry Medvedev has won 68.2 percent of the vote at Sunday's presidential election, the election commission said, based on returns from over half of all polling stations.

He made clear on Monday that he would be responsible for running Russia's foreign policy after taking office.

Over 100 million Russians voted this Sunday to elect the new president of Russia.  In this country which spans eleven time zones and has a land mass two and a half times that of the US, the electoral process has been a lengthy one.

In Kamchatka and Chukotka, in the far east of Russia, polling stations opened on Saturday at 9pm GMT+1. The final voting took place in Kaliningrad, in the west, where polls close Sunday at 7pm GMT+1

The preliminary overall results will be announced on Monday at 8am GMT+1.

Election without suspense

Gauthier Rybinski, France 24’s political analyst, observes, “The only real suspense has to do with the participation rate. I think there will be a relatively high turnout since Russians take their right to vote seriously. They haven’t exercised that right in a long time.  Previously, when the communists were in power, voting was mandatory.  Today, the choice of candidates is not open but voting has symbolic value, even if everyone knows what the outcome will be.”

Romain Goguelin, Moscow correspondent for FRANCE 24, gives this analysis: “Putin is trying to convince the Russians to vote. It’s not an easy task because this election doesn’t excite the Russians. If Medvedev is elected but with a meagre turnout, his legitimacy will be weakened, and the Kremlin doesn’t want that.”

No debate

Opposition leaders called for a boycott.  One of them is Sergei Korzun, journalist and founder of radio station ‘Echoes from Moscow.’ It was one of the few media outlets to criticize the Kremlin. In a debate on FRANCE 24, he remarked, “In my circle, we vacillate between not voting at all and hiding the ballot boxes.  We’re not keen on having people make decisions for us.”

The campaign had no room for a debate between the candidates. Medvedev takes up a huge part of the media’s attention.  The three other candidates vying for the office are: Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, nationalist Liberal Democrat Vladimir Zhirinovsky and pro-European Andrei Bogdanov.

The official results will be publicised March 7.

Date created : 2008-03-02

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