Putin has a commanding lead in opinion polls.
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Russian voters are set to propel Vladimir Putin to another term as president in an election Sunday, giving him credit for standing up for Russia against Western governments that view him as a dangerous autocrat. Opinion polls show Putin, 65, with a commanding election lead, all but guaranteeing him another term that will take him to nearly a quarter century in power – a longevity among Kremlin leaders second only to Josef Stalin.In an election campaign where Putin has benefited from glowing coverage on mainstream television, he has cast himself as the only person who can defend Russia's national interests in a hostile world.A March 9 survey by state-run pollster VTsIOM gave Putin, who was first elected president in 2000, support of 69 percent.Kremlin officials acknowledge that Putin's dominance could turn people off voting.If Putin, who will be 71 when his next term ends, wants a peaceful retirement, however, he will have to try to engineer a succession.
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