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.