Putin declared the winner of presidential elections, opposition to hold protests against him

Vladimir Putin has regained his position as president of Russia after Sunday’s election. According to the Central Election Committee, Putin got 63.82 per cent votes confirming him as winner without the need for a second round of voting. The second highest result was achieved by communist leader Gennady Zyuganov with 17.8 per cent of the votes. The other candidates, oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and former Duma speaker Sergey Mironov, all had less than 8 per cent of votes.

Zuganov described the election results as “illegitimate and unfair”, while Mironov, Zhirinovsky and Prokhorov accepted their defeat and recognised Putin’s victory.

Vladimir Putin made a speech in front of his supporters in Moscow’s Manezh Square saying his victory was “clean” and the elections were “a test” that showed “Russian people didn’t let anyone impose their will” to destabilise the country. This statement is in line with Putin’s previous allegations against the opposition. President Dmitry Medvedev said they “won’t give this victory away to anyone”.

Opposition and journalists reported numerous fraud allegations, along with the suggestion that Putin’s supporters were paid to appear at central squares on 4 March for money and were bussed in.

Watchdogs from the League of Voters reported over 3,000 election law violations. The same number was reported by GOLOS association, another independent monitor.

Most violations include ballot-box stuffing  and “carousels’ — when a group of the same people vote several times at different poll stations. Carousels often included police officers, plant workers and the military.

Mikhail Gorbachev has said he doubts that “election results reflect real public mood”.

Russian citizens held mass protests against Putin’s third presidential campaign run, and plan to continue protesting. Putin became president in 2000, 2004 and in 2008 he supported Dmitry Medvedev, who made Putin prime minister.

A sanctioned rally against Putin and for fair elections will be held on 5 March on Pushkinskaya Square in the centre of Moscow.

Venezuela: journalist sentence to two years in prison

On 25 March, journalist Gustavo Azocar, host of “Café con Azócar,” a news and political commentary of Televisora del Táchira, was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment for illegal profiting in acts of public administration. Judge José Hernán Oliveros found the journalist guilty of fraud in the signing of a 2000 advertising contract between the state lottery and Radio Noticias 106, where he was working at the time. Azocar, an outspoken critic of Chavez’s government, was released from prison, where he had been held since July 2009, and he will be able to serve his sentence on probation.