Putin to Win Presidency in First Round, State Pollster Says

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will win the March 4 presidential election in the first round with 52 percent of the vote, according to an opinion poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov would get 11 percent and Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the nationalist Liberal Democrat Party would get nine percent, according to the survey of 1,600 Russians. The poll was conducted Jan. 14-15 and the margin of error was 3.4 percentage points, the organization, known as VTsIOM, said on its website.

Putin would get 45 percent of votes, requiring a second round 21 days later, according to another survey by the Public Opinion Foundation, known by its Russian acronym, FOM. Zyuganov had 11 percent and Zhirinovsky 10 percent support, according to survey of 3,000 Russians conducted from Jan. 14-15, FOM said on its website, without giving any margin of error.

Putin, 59, is facing the biggest challenge to his rule since he came to power 12 years ago. Major challengers in the presidential race are backing demands for new parliamentary elections after allegations of fraud in Dec. 4 legislative polls sparked mass protests in Russian cities.

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