There was never any doubt that Vladimir Putin would win a third term as Russian president but the margin of his victory surprised even the most cynical of dissidents. With 100 per cent of ballots counted, the central election commission gave Putin 64 per cent of the vote. Golos, an independent election watchdog, which received more than 3,000 reports of voting fraud, said its own exit polls suggested that he had actually won just over 50 per cent of the vote .
The Guardian’s Russian correspondent Miriam Elder reported that people were “bussed from polling site to polling site in order to cast multiple votes for Vladimir Putin.”
But even Putin’s electoral chicanery could not prevent the Russian middle class registering its discontent with his leadership. In Moscow, Russia’s wealthiest and most populous city, Putin received 48.7 per cent of the vote on a turnout of just 49 per cent, the sixth lowest in the country.