Vladimir Putin has claimed victory in Russia’s presidential election, amid allegations from his rivals that voting was marred by fraud.

Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters outside the Kremlin walls in Moscow, the prime minister insisted it had been an “open and honest” contest.

He added: “I promised you we would win. We have won. Glory to Russia”.

Exit polls suggested the 59-year-old former KGB spy picked up around 60% of the vote – enough to avoid a run-off against the second-placed candidate.

Mr Putin, who was president between 2000 and 2008, is now set to secure a new six-year term in the Kremlin.

His nearest rival in the election, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, is thought to have taken about 17%-18% of votes.

Mr Zyuganov said his party would not recognise the official results of the election, calling it “illegitimate, dishonest and untransparent”.

The billionaire tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov scored 9%, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky 7%-8%, while ex-parliamentary speaker Sergei Mironov was fifth with 4%, the early results showed.

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