Russian voters gave President Vladimir V. Putin their resounding approval for a fourth term on Sunday, with preliminary results on state television showing him with more than 70 percent of the vote, even if the initial turnout estimate was less than the Kremlin had sought.
The Kremlin had initially hoped that Mr. Putin would get at least 70 percent of the vote with a 70 percent turnout, but on Sunday it appeared unlikely to achieve that goal, according to still preliminary figures. If the turnout figure does not change, it may end up being below the level in 2012, 65 percent.
Still, the numbers were high enough for Mr. Putin, 65, to claim a popular mandate for another six-year term, which under current term limits should be his last. Mr. Putin has been president since 2000, stepping aside for one term as prime minister to get around term limits.
At 2300 local time [2000 GMT], the President appeared on Moscow’s central Manezh square to claim victory in front of thousands of cheering supporters. “You are my team,” he roared. “And our success is around the corner.”
But he hinted this would be his last election as President. The idea that he would return after another rotation as prime minister was "amusing," he said: "Do you think I'm going to sit here until I'm a hundred?"