Putin's nominee wins Russia vote

Exit polls show Dmitry Medvedev is way ahead of his rivals, as election day ends.

    Putin, left, and Medvedev celebrated at an open-air concert in Red Square, outside the Kremlin [EPA]

    Medvedev had won 68.2 per cent of the vote based on results from more than half of the country's polling stations, the election commission said.
     
    None of the other candidates had appeared likely to threaten Medvedev, who had the endorsement of Vladimir Putin, Russia's outgoing president.
     
    Celebration
     

    On Sunday, Putin congratulated his protege.
     

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    "Our candidate, Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, has taken a firm lead," Putin said, wishing him success as he appeared alongside Medvedev on an open-air concert stage in Red Square, outside the Kremlin.
     
    Medvedev, dressed in jeans and a leather jacket, used the occasion to reaffirm his commitment to pursuing Putin's policies.
     
    "Together we can continue the course set by President Putin .... Together we'll go further. Together we'll win. Hurrah!" he declared, to roars of approval from the crowd.
     
    Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull, reporting from Moscow, said the result was "no big surprise"
     
    "The result of this election was never really in any doubt," he said.
     
    "This was a vote in the Soviet style, with really no choice at all."
     
    Election criticised
     
    Even before the election was under way, critics had denounced it as little more than a stage show.
     
    As voting progressed, the independent Russian election monitoring group said it had received a steady stream of complaints.

     

    Many activists and ordinary Russians claim  workers were pressured by bosses to vote and that some have been ordered to turn in absentee ballots, presumably so that someone else could vote in their stead.


    The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), refused to send observers, saying the Russian authorities were imposing such tight restrictions that they could not work in a meaningful way.

     

    The new president will face some major domestic tasks.

     

    Political uncertainty

     
    Russia
     has gotten rich from skyrocketing world oil prices, but the economy is hugely dependent on natural resources and needs to diversify to solidify long-term prosperity.

    Inflation - more than 11 per cent last year - is undermining the nascent middle class.

     

    But with Medvedev's victory, the main political uncertainty in Russia in the transition period is to what extent he will act independently of Putin.

     

    The premiership that Putin is expected to take -  Medvedev has said he would ask Putin to become his prime minister - is the most powerful executive position in the government and Putin would be likely to maximise its influence.

     

    Speculation persists that the parliament, overwhelmingly dominated by Putin's supporters, could expand the prime minister's powers, or that Medvedev could resign before his term is out, allowing Putin to return to the presidency.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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