Dec. 4 - Despite exit polls that show Russia's ruling party with less that half of the votes, Vladimir Putin called the election a win for United Russia. Deborah Gembara reports.
They're still counting the ballots but exit polls suggest support for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party has taken a serious hit in the party's parliamentary election. Exit polls show United Russia with 48.7 percent of the vote. This is down from the party's 63 percent in 2007. Despite this, Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev told supporters in Moscow they consider the election a win. SOUNDBITE: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saying (Russian): "I want to address all the citizens of the country, and first of all those who voted for the party (United Russia), who supported it. I want to say that despite a rather difficult time in our country's existence before, despite the crisis, despite the fact that the leading political force, United Russia, carried the responsibility for this difficult period and for all mistakes and fortunes, but even despite these difficulties and these responsibilities of the party, the people, our voters, our citizens again chose to have it as the leading political force in our country." Some are calling the result a sign of growing unease with the man who has dominated Russian politics for more than a decade. Analysts says that flagging support for United Russia is not a harbinger of things to come for the party's presidential candidate. Many predict Putin will easily win the March 4th presidential election and could extend his rule until 2024 if he wins the maximum two more terms. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.