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Putin ready for run-off
Date: Feb 02, 2012
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin acknowledged that it could take him two rounds of voting to win the March presidential elections, but warned the runoff could spark instability.
This is Mr. Putin's third presidential campaign: two previous elections in 2000 and 2004 he won outright in the first round.
“I understand that a second round runoff is possible, as per the current legislation,” said Mr. Putin, adding that a second round could lead to “a certain destabilisation of the political situation”. “But there's nothing scary about it. I am ready for that, to work in the second round, if need be,” he said at a meeting on Wednesday with Russian election observers.
As Mr. Putin was speaking, opposition activists put up a huge banner opposite the Kremlin that said “Putin — Go Away” and showed his face crossed out.
Mr. Putin is facing an unprecedented wave of protests against his return to the Kremlin. Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in December to protest alleged rigging of parliamentary elections by Mr. Putin's party, United Russia, and Mr. Putin's plans to reclaim presidency. More mass protests are scheduled for Saturday in Moscow and other cities. Organisers said the protesters would call on Russians not to vote for Mr. Putin.
Recent polls showed unusually low election ratings for Mr. Putin, with less than 50 per cent of voters ready to support him in the first round.
Nevertheless, he maintains a formidable lead over the other four contesters, with the nearest contender — Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov, scoring between eight and 11 per cent of the vote. This gave pollsters grounds to predict that Mr. Putin would win the March 4 election in the first round, though with reduced margins.
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