MOSCOW (AP) — Exit polls cited by state television say Vladimir Putin has won Russia's presidential election, which the opposition and independent observers say has been marred by widespread violations.
Putin tallied 59 percent of Sunday's vote, according to a nationwide exit poll conducted by the VTsIOM polling agency for Channel one television. Another exit poll done by the FOM polling agency for Rossiya TV showed Putin received 58 percent of the ballot.
Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov, got support of some 18 percent, according to the survey, and the others — nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, socialist Sergei Mironov and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov — were in single digits.
If confirmed, claims of violations could undermine the legitimacy of Putin's victory and help fuel opposition protests.