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Vote rig claim after Putin ally landslide

  • Story Highlights
  • Dmitry Medvedev wins Russian presidential vote by a landslide
  • Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor did not face serious opposition
  • NEW: U.S. welcomes his victory, "looks forward to working with him"
  • Independent observers say election was one-sided, accusations of rigging
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Dmitry Medvedev has celebrated his landslide victory in Russia's presidential vote, amid claims by electoral observers questioning the fairness of the result, according to agency reports.

Newly elected Russian president Dmitry Medvedev at a Moscow press conference Monday.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, and 99.7 percent of the vote counted, Medvedev -- President Vladimir Putin's hand-picked successor -- held 70.2 percent of the vote, the Central Election Commission reported.

But Golos, a Russian vote monitoring group, says it has received allegations of multiple voting papers, falsified names on electoral registers, the stuffing of ballot boxes and electoral observers and media being barred from polling stations, AP added.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the continent's top election watchdog, refused to monitor the balloting because of what it called severe restrictions on its observers by the Russian government. Putin insisted last month that Russia has "fully implemented" all of its commitments to the OSCE.

Meanwhile Medvedev has vowed to work closely with the man who tapped him for the job -- and who is likely to serve as his prime minister.

"I will work on this together with Mr. Vladimir Putin, as the future chairman of the government," Medvedev told supporters in Moscow.

Putin has requested that Medvedev to take over presidential State Council meetings, AP reported, as well as floating the idea that they work on reorganizing the cabinet.

According to Central Election Commission, Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, was second with nearly 18 percent and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was third with 9.3 percent. Andrei Bogdanov, of the Democratic Party, was in fourth with 1.3 percent. Both Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky have indicated that they will question the result in court.

The United States welcomed his victory and said it "looks forward to working with him."

"It's in our mutual interest for Russia and the United States to work together on areas of common interest such as non-proliferation, counterterrorism and combating transnational crime," according to a statement from White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

British PM Gordon Brown also congratulated Medvedev on his election. Many observers regard Brown's message as an attempt to thaw frosty relations with Moscow, which have deteriorated since the fatal poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Medvedev said the "unprecedented high" turnout -- which he put at about two-thirds of eligible voters -- was an indication "that our people are not indifferent to the future of our country" and gives him the mandate he needs to govern.

Medvedev, 42, said he would follow the foreign policy priorities set during the eight years of Putin's rule, "the essence of which is the protection of Russian interests around the whole perimeter."

Medvedev said Putin, who is to move into the role of prime minister, would have his constitutionally defined powers separate from those of the president, "and nobody proposes to change them." Video Watch CNN's Mathew Chance report on the election »

He predicted their work together "may bring interesting results for the country and become a positive factor in the development of our country."

Medvedev's comments came shortly after Putin congratulated his protege on his projected victory, calling the results an affirmation of his own policies.

"This victory is going to be a guarantee that the course that we have all chosen together, the successful course that we have been pursuing for the past eight years, will be continued," Putin told the crowd at a Red Square rock concert broadcast on Russian TV.

Putin praised Russians for demonstrating their society "is becoming efficient, responsible and active," and thanked the candidates who ran against his choice to replace him -- but added, "The election is over."

"I am very hopeful that the electoral passions will stay in the past, and all those who really do love our Russia will pool their efforts in work for the good of the citizens of our great homeland."

Despite allegations of electoral irregularities, Medvedev appears to have genuine appeal to many Russian voters. "He is a wonderful, young, handsome, energetic man who will continue Putin's work and be a shining example to our children," voter Tamara Razumova said.

Medvedev has publicly committed to promote democracy, fight corruption, and bolster the rule of law. But as Kremlin critics point out, Putin made similar promises when he ran, only to be criticized at home and abroad for cracking down on opposition groups.

"His pronouncements were quite opposite to what he was doing," said Evgeny Volk, an analyst at the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Many Russians credit Putin with leaving the country out of the poverty and uncertainty of the 1990s and is responsible for the current national economic boom -- so his endorsement carried a great deal of weight.

Russian analyst Vycheslav Nikonov said it remains to be seen how much power Putin will wield as prime minister, but he is likely to remain "a very influential political figure for years to come."


"I don't know what's going to happen in half a year. It may all change," said Nikonov, the president of the Politika Foundation, a Russian think-tank.

"Putin is still more popular, more trustworthy. As for Medvedev, he is the president of hope, and much will depend on whether he can deliver." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN Correspondent Matthew Chance contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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