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The BBC's Rob Parsons in Moscow
"He warned against false hopes"
 real 28k

Political commentator Alexei Pushkov
"He thinks he has a green light from the nation"
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Monday, 27 March, 2000, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
Putin clinches Russian presidency
Mr Putin arrives at campaign HQ early on Monday
Vladimir Putin has been elected as Russia's second post-Soviet leader after securing a little more than half the votes in weekend polls, with final votes still being counted.

Mr Putin narrowly held an absolute majority with 52.5% of the vote and is certain to avoid a run-off next month against his Communist rival Gennady Zyuganov, who is in second place with 29.4%.

No-one should pin their hopes on a miracle

Vladimir Putin
"We can say that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was elected president of the Russian Federation," said Central Election Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov. "The candidates' scores will not change significantly."

Former KGB agent Putin pledged to work on a detailed programme to end economic chaos that has plagued Russia since the fall of Communism.

"(The result) give us an additional push towards working to achieve even better results," Interfax news agency quoted Mr Putin as saying at a meeting of deputy premiers and security chiefs.

Votes counted: 94%
Vladimir Putin - 52.5%
Gennady Zyuganov - 29.4%
Grigory Yavlinsky - 5.9%
Aman Tuleyev - 3.1%
Vladimir Zhirinovsky - 2.7%
Six other candidates won about 1% or less each
1.9% voted against all contenders
"In the near future, (we must) put together all our work (on an economic programme) into a weighty document," RIA news agency quoted him as saying.

Mr Zyuganov accused the government of falsifying the results and claimed that the Communist vote exceeded more than 40%.

"They have set up a zone of blanket fraud to cheat citizens," Mr Zyuganov said.

The BBC's Andrew Harding in Moscow said there was more relief than euphoria when the acting leader arrived at his campaign headquarters earlier on Monday.

Popular discontent

As it became clear he was doing well, Mr Putin told journalists that a first-round victory would give him a stronger moral mandate.

But he warned Russians against expecting too much from him.

"Well, perhaps no-one should pin their hopes on a miracle. In any case, I have no right to say that miracles will start to occur tomorrow. I believe that the situation is difficult in that the level of expectations is really very high," he said.

Zyuganov claims his party was cheated out of second round

He also acknowledged the Communists' strong showing, and said that his government would have to take popular discontent into account.

"That means that our policy must be more balanced, take into account the existing realities and aim at increasing living standards," he said.

Hometown boost

Correspondents say the results appeared to reflect greater support for the acting leader as the vote count moved west. The first returns, mostly from the far east, had given him only 45%.

Old woman votes
Millions of Russians defied fears of voter apathy
In his hometown of St Petersburg, Mr Putin garnered more than 62% of the vote, although he did less well in the capital Moscow, where voters gave him 46%.

About 68.8% of the eligible voting population turned out on Sunday, confounding earlier fears that apathy might render the poll invalid. A new election would have been necessary had voter turnout not reached 50%.

Victory means Mr Putin will lead Russia for at least the next four years with sweeping powers.

Election officials say he will be inaugurated on 5 May, and only after that will he be able to name his government.

Mr Putin has vowed to rebuild the authority of the Russian state while pressing on with market reforms.

Some liberals fear he will roll back hard-won democratic freedoms - a charge he has denied.

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See also:

09 Mar 00 | Media reports
Putin in his own words
26 Mar 00 | Europe
Russia denies capture of town
08 Mar 00 | Europe
Why is Putin popular?
25 Mar 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Putin prepares for power
29 Oct 99 | Europe
Analysis: Putin's war
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