Moscow: Vladimir Putin will secure an
outright victory in the first round of March polls, his
spokesman said Monday, citing an outpouring of support for the
Russian strongman over the weekend.
Authorities on Saturday staged a rally in Moscow`s
Poklonnaya Gora War Memorial Park to support the prime
minister`s presidential bid as they sought to outnumber tens
of thousands who turned up for a rival rally protesting
Putin`s 12-year grip on power.
"People`s convincing support at the Poklonnaya Gora shows
that Putin will win in the first round," Putin`s campaign
website quoted Putin`s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
"This convincing support which we saw at the Poklonnaya
Gora as well as sociologists` dry numbers assertively point to
the first round," Peskov told an interview with
mass-circulation newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in comments
posted on Putin`s campaign website.
Russia`s budding opposition movement said 120,000 people
defied freezing temperatures to demand Putin quit power. Putin
said, quoting Moscow authorities, that up to 190,000 braved
temperatures of minus 17 degrees Celsius to turn up for a
rally supporting his policies.
"To be honest, no-one expected, and I did not expect,
that so many people would turn up at the Poklonnaya Gora,"
Complaints surfaced before and after the rally that
teachers, nurses and other state employees were offered cash
incentives or ordered to attend the pro-Putin rally, often on
pain of getting fired.