Two exit polls showed that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling party suffered a big decline in support in a parliamentary election on Sunday, winning less than half of votes cast.

Following are reactions to the exit polls:

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRIME MINISTER

Despite all the difficulties and responsibility placed on the (United Russia) party's shoulders, our voters, our citizens have preserved it as the leading political party.

This is an optimal result which reflects the real situation in the country... Based on this result we can guarantee stable development of our country.

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, PRESIDENT AND HEAD OF UNITED RUSSIA PARTY LIST

We need to get a functional Duma which will not be swamped with controversies . for that we need a powerful, strong United Russia faction and we need to have friendly relations with our partners in the State Duma.

In any case, taken the more complicated configuration of the Duma, we will have to enter in to coalitions and agreements (with other parties) on certain issues. This is normal, this is what parliamentarianism and democracy are about.

BORIS GRYZLOV, HEAD OF THE RULING COUNCIL OF UNITED RUSSIA

We are watching and hope that we shall get a majority of the mandates in the Duma.

We received support from the electorate... We can say that United Russia remains the ruling party.

I congratulate you all and thank the electorate again.

GENNADY ZYUGANOV, COMMUNIST PARTY LEADER

Despite their efforts to break public opinion, the country has refused to support United Russia.

The country has never seen such a dirty election, even during the depth of the collapse under President Boris Yeltsin.

SERGEI OBUKHOV, COMMUNIST LAWMAKER

Russia has a new political reality even if they rewrite everything.

VLADIMIR RYZHKOV, LIBERAL OPPOSITION LEADER

I think the real percentage of votes United Russia received was from 35 to 45 percent.

These elections are unprecedented because were carried out against the background of a collapse in trust in Putin, Medvedev and the ruling party. This is the most important political circumstance. I think that the March (presidential) election will turn into an even bigger political crisis, disappointment, frustration, with even more dirt and disenchantment, and an even bigger protest vote.

ANDREI PIONTKOVSKY, POLITICAL ANALYST

It's the beginning of the end.

It shows a loss of prestige for the party and the country's leaders. They are more despised mow than respected.

People are fed up.

SERGEI BELANOVSKY, POLITICAL ANALYST

I think there is a trend of the authorities' legitimacy falling, primarily Putin's.

Although the people are not inclined to aggressive and violent behaviour, can the new old authorities run the country with a slump in ratings and not being ready to shoot? I do not know if it is possible to run a country where everyone hates you.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova, Jennifer Rankin, Alexei Anishchuk and Gleb Bryanski, Editing by Timothy Heritage)