With tears streaming down his face, Putin, standing in front of the Kremlin, told a rally: ‘I promised you we would win. We have won. Glory to Russia.”
With outgoing president, Dmitry Medvedev standing beside him, Putin praised his supporters for electing him in the face of outside forces.
Unprecedented protests against his rule, curated by the West, have rocked Russia since a contested parliamentary vote in December.
Putin, who has already served as president from 1999 to 2008, said: “We showed that no one can direct us in anything!”
“We were able to save ourselves from political provocations, which have one goal: to destroy Russian sovereignty and usurp power.”
Results in from the central election commission gave Putin 63 per cent, with 22 per cent of the votes counted. Exit polls from the state-run VTsIOM polling agency predicted Putin would take 53 per cent of the vote.
However, claims of falsifications, including ‘ballot stuffing’ and ‘carousel voting’ – taking busloads of voters to several polling sites to cast numerous votes – are marring Putin’s victory.
This is despite the Kremlin setting up webcams at polling sites to catch fraudsters.
One camera caught a man stuffing voting papers into a ballot box in Degestan.
Putin’s camp denies claims of fraud.
“This is the cleanest election in Russia’s entire history,” said his campaign chief, Stanislav Govorukhin.
Protesters are expected to gather in the streets today in a backlash against the result.
Many opposition activists had hoped to force Putin into a second round and questioned his landslide victory. “Putin has named himself the emperor of Russia for the next 12 years,” said the protest leader Alexey Navalny. “We announced earlier that we will not recognise these elections. The powers here are illegitimate – this is their only way to remain in power.”
Putin will return to the presidency following an inauguration in early May. Constitutional changes instituted by Medvedev extended the presidential term from four to six years.