Preliminary results from Russia’s presidential election show that the incumbent leader Vladimir Putin is headed for a resounding victory.
According to the country’s electoral commission, Putin is now leading with over 76% of the vote.
With ballots still being counted, Russia’s Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin secured second place with 13%, followed by nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky who got only 6%.
Putin declared victory in front of thousands of people gathered in below-freezing temperatures at Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin, where he called for unity in the country.
The election win will take his rule into 2024, the year he turns 72.
Putin was first elected to the Kremlin in 2000, and again four years later. Constitutionally barred from serving more than two consecutive terms, he did not run in 2008. He won 63.6% of the vote during the last election in 2012.