Vladimir Putin has thanked his supporters for returning him to the Kremlin as president as he claimed victory. He will serve a six-year term.
The exit polls have given him a commanding lead and he claimed victory just before 20.00 CET in the bitter cold of Moscow.
The 59-year-old told the vast crowd of supporters, “We won an open and honest fight.”
At times emotional with the crowd chanting his name, Putin warned against people who wanted to “smash Russia” and “usurp power”.
“We won,” says Mr Putin. “Glory to Russia!” before he headed off with the outgoing President Dimitry Medvedev by his side.
Earlier Stanislav Govorukhin, Putin’s campaign chief, reacted to accusations of fraud in the polls by saying, “This is the cleanest election in Russia’s entire history. The violations our rivals and the opponents of our president will now speak of are laughable.”