It’s official - Medvedev is president-elect

Russia's Central Election Commission has announced the official results of the country's March 2 presidential vote. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was the clear winner in a poll which saw around 70% of eligible voters take part.

Behind him, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov took almost 18%.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democrats, scored 9% and trailing was Democratic Party leader Andrey Bogdanov, with a little more than 1%.

Voter turnout beat that of December’s parliamentary election and exceeded the figure registered in the 2004 presidential poll.

Dmitry Medvedev won in the first run of the elections.

The next Russian President has already thanked his supporters for their trust.

“I would like to express my gratitude to all Russian citizens who cast their ballots in the presidential election. More than 74 million people, or 69.7% of those eligible to vote, came to the polls. It is quite a big number, and it means I now have your trust to address the major social and economic issues facing our nation and to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. I thank you for your support,” Dmitry Medvedev said.

Until Medvedev’s inauguration on May 7, the current President Vladimir Putin will continue to serve as head of state.

International observers' concerns

Despite the high turnout some foreign observers said Russian voters didn't have enough choice in the election.

“Candidate registration concerns could not have been accommodated, putting into question how free the election was. Equal access of the candidates to the media and the public sphere in general has not improved, putting into question the fairness of the election,” stated head of PACE observation team Andreas Gross.

The Election Commission, however, said less than 2% of the complaints made were legitimate, while other observers saw the high number of voters as a sign of democracy.

“There were some critics who didn’t even bother to become familiar with the way the election system works here. Straight away they started saying that the election was undemocratic. There was some harsh criticism but I think that the citizens of Russia stopped these critics with their high turnout,” said Anna Belousovova, an observer from Slovakia.follow the link.