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Russia's Putin declared winner in presidential vote

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Moscow, Mar 23 (AP) Russian electoral officials have officially declared incumbent President Vladimir Putin the winner of last Sunday's election.

The Central Election Commission today issued final results, showing that Putin won nearly 77 per cent of the vote. Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin came second with nearly 12 per cent.

The vote was tainted by widespread reports of ballot-box stuffing and forced voting. Ella Pamfilova, chairwoman of the Election Commission, said at the commission's session today that the vote was free and fair.

Sunday's win will keep Putin in office until 2024.

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