MOSCOW, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Dmitry Medvedev has a commanding lead heading into Russia's presidential election next month, it was reported Friday.
The Moscow Times reported that Medvedev's popularity is above 70 percent and the Russian presidential front-runner could win by a large margin than his ally, President Vladimir Putin, did in 2004 -- when Putin collected 71.3 percent of the vote.
"Anything above 85 percent for Medvedev would be very improbable because there are core Communist voters and Zhirinovsky's voters," said a Medvedev campaign official, speaking to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
Alexei Mukhin, an analyst with the Center for Political Information, said Putin -- who hand-picked Medvedev as his successor -- would want a vote so high that the election is open to question.
"This would make Medvedev a less legitimate president in the eyes of the West. Medvedev would then need a stronger Putin in order to legitimize his government," Mukhin said.