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Outside Moscow, Putin wins over Russians

March 3, 2012 at 7:10 PM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, March 3 (UPI) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appears to have enough support outside Moscow to give him the victory in his bid to become president, observers say.

While protesters in the capital call for more freedoms and a move toward democracy, such sentiments aren't so common elsewhere, The Guardian reported.

Outside Moscow, state television still dominates, as few have access to the Internet, and Putin's emphasis on stability appears to have won over many as he seeks to return to the presidency after four years as prime minister.

Polls indicate he will receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the election.

Tough times -- job losses, a closing factory, for instance -- are blamed in many parts of the country not on Putin but on corrupt and ineffective local or regional officials in what The Guardian dubbed the "good czar-bad nobles syndrome." If Putin were aware of their troubles, many believe, things would improve.

And with the reliance on state-run TV outside Moscow, Putin is seen regularly in action -- going after ministers, personally helping out a small town, for instance -- while Moscow is portrayed as chaotic, what with all the protesting in the streets, and the government predicts more chaos if Putin lost.

"Life became stable with the arrival of Putin," said Tatyana Pancheva, the director of the only school in Voskresenskoye, a village about 150 miles south of Moscow. "We began to trust that we will live peacefully, calmly, without war."

The school had been crumbling and she urged officials to build a new one for 18 years. Nothing came of the requests, until students called Putin during a 2006 question-and-answer session and pleaded for a new school. It was built two years later.

"I think of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin with great respect," Pancheva said.

Putin's top rivals are Communist Gennady Zyuganov, far-right

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

The election Sunday will be closely watched. About 600,000 Russians have registered on the Web site webvybory2012.ru, which is broadcasting polling, RIA Novosti reported. After protests over alleged fraud favoring Putin's United Russia party in December's parliamentary elections, he has pledged almost all 95,000 polling places in Russia will be equipped with Web cams.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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