Members of the election commission empty a ballot box at a polling station after Russia's parliamentary elections in Simferopol on September 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Preliminary results show the ruling United Russia (UR) party is leading in parliamentary elections, paving the way for President Vladimir Putin to cruise to a fourth term at polls in 2018.
With 60 percent of the votes counted, partial results showed the UR party led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had received 53.8 percent of the votes in Sunday’s elections of the lower house of the parliament or State Duma.
The Communist Party is trailing behind with 13.9 percent, while the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia came third and fourth with 13.7 percent and 6.2 percent respectively.
“We can announce already with certainty that the party secured a good result, that it won,” Putin said after the vote. "The situation is tough and difficult but the people still voted for United Russia," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev listens at the election campaign headquarters during parliamentary elections in Moscow on September 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Medvedev also said that his party would end up with an “absolute majority” in the Duma.
According to electoral officials some 47.8 of voters cast their ballots. The Central Election Commission said violations registered at Sunday's elections were significantly lower than in previous ones.
Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and up to 1,500 journalists from 154 media outlets, including 85 foreign ones, were covering the Russian elections.
The vote comes as Putin's approval ratings remain high at around 80 percent and authorities appear to be banking on trouble-free presidential elections in two years.