A day after Vladimir Putin claimed victory in Russia's presidential polls, his opponents are set to hold a major protest. An elections watchdog received reports of more than 3,000 irregularities on election day.
Security was stepped up in Moscow on Monday ahead of a rally that Russia's opposition movement said would bring tens of thousands of demonstrators out on the streets to protest against Vladimir Putin's landslide victory in Sunday's presidential election.
An extra 6,000 police officers are reported to have been sent to the capital ahead of the rally, which has been sanctioned by the authorities. The opposition has staged a number of rallies since the December 4 parliamentary election, which Putin's United Russia party also won.
A few hours before the protest was scheduled to begin, Russia's central election commission officially declared that Putin had won the election
"According to the preliminary results, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has been elected president of the Russian Federation," the head of the election commission, Vladimir Churov, told reporters in Moscow.
With more than 99 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Putin had 63.75 percent of the votes. His closest rival was the head of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, who won 17.19 percent.
"As you can see, there will be no second round," Churov added, referring to the fact that Putin had taken well over the 50 percent needed to win the election outright.
Putin had already claimed victory Sunday night, in an address to thousands of supporters near the Kremlin.
"I have promised that we would win and we have won," he said. "We have won in an open and honest struggle."
The opposition though, claim Putin won his landslide at least in part due to widespread fraud in the election. There have been numerous reports of "carousel voting," in which people voted at several different polling stations. Security camera footage also appeared to show people feeding numerous ballots into automated counting machines.
The elections watchdog organization Golos said it had received reports of more than 3,000 irregularities.
pfd/ncy (AP, dpa, Reuters)