Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will have no problem getting elected to his third term as president, a state polling agency determined on Monday.
Russia's Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) predicts that Putin could win 58.6 percent of the vote in March, assuring that there would be no run-off election.
Despite a growing protest movement against Putin's perceived hegemonic control over Russian politics, VTsIOM, which is a respected and historically accurate grant-funded polling service, said that the prime minister's closest opponent -- the Communist Party's Gennady Zyuganov -- will receive only 14.8 percent of the vote.
Putin held Russia's top job from 2000 to 2008, but couldn't run for a third consecutive seat due to constitutional law. Instead, Putin stepped aside to let fellow party member Dmitri Medvedev take the reins while Putin served as his prime minister.
Notably, Putin won his first presidential election with 54 percent of the vote and his second in 2004 with 71 percent.
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Although the latest poll indicates that the prime minister may have lost some support, Putin is approaching the elections with confidence. He has shrugged off the protests, which he blamed on foreign agitators, and has been on the offensive about issues like the NATO missile shield in Europe and potential military intervention in Syria.
On Monday, Putin announced a plan to spend 23 trillion rubles ($770 billion) on the military over the next 10 years in order to boost the security and stability of the country.
There are attempts to provoke such conflicts in the immediate vicinity of the borders of Russia and our allies, he ominously wrote in an editorial in Russia's Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
New regional and local wars are being sparked before our very eyes.