Russian presidential election proceeds smoothly

March 3rd, 2008 - 1:07 am ICT by admin  

Moscow, March 2 (Xinhua) The Russian presidential election was proceeding smoothly Sunday as voting already ended in the country’s most regions. As Russia’s vast territory encompasses 11 time zones, voting actually first began in its far eastern region of Kamchatka Saturday evening and will end in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave located between Poland and Lithuania, at 1800 GMT Sunday.

“The election is going on smoothly without any incident,” said French observer Thierry Mariani, adding the Russian election generally corresponded to European democratic traditions.

Around 450,000 police and troops were deployed across the country to watch over voting and guard against any terrorist attacks, according to Itar-Tass news agency.

Mariani, who earlier was a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also lauded the election management and technical equipment of the polling stations.

According to opinion polls, most voters are expected to support President Vladimir Putin’s chosen successor Dmitry Medvedev.

The latest reports from the Central Elections Commission (CEC) showed that the overall turnout in the Russian presidential election was 59.6 percent at 5 p.m. local time.

CEC officials predicted the final turnout at 65 percent to 67 percent.

The voter turnout was 63.9 percent in the far east, where all the polling stations have already been closed. Counting of votes proceeds in all regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, Itar-Tass news agency reported.

In Moscow, the 42-year-old Medvedev, first deputy prime minister of Putin’s cabinet, arrived at the No. 2614 polling station early in the morning together with his wife Svetlana to cast his ballot.

The other three candidates are Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Andrei Bogdanov, head of the Democratic Party.

Accompanied by his wife Lyudmila, President Putin cast his ballot at the No. 2074 polling station in the Russian Academy of Sciences in the capital.

The incumbent president said the rainy weather could not dampen his mood. “I am in a festive mood,” Putin said.

Other voters were not barred from the polling station when the president and his wife cast their ballot papers.

All candidates in the presidential race have cast their ballots. “The situation is not in our favour, but we will keep fighting,” Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov said.

Another candidate Zhirinovsky said he was voting for his victory. “If I win, there will be a holiday, if not, everyone will be sad.”

Democratic Party leader Andrei Bogdanov voted at the polling station located in his alma mater in Moscow’s Solntsevo district.

There are 3,283 polling stations and some 7 million eligible voters in Moscow.

A candidate must obtain more than 50 percent of the vote to win an outright victory. Otherwise, a run-off will be held between the top two front-runners in the race.

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