Russian leader Vladimir Putin crushed his rivals in presidential elections with almost 64 percent of the vote, according to results published Monday based on an almost complete vote count.


Putin won 63.97 percent of the vote in Sunday's polls, well ahead of his nearest rival the Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov who won 17.18 percent, based on a count of the vote from 98.47 percent of polling stations.

Third place went to tycoon-turned-politician Mikhail Prokhorov with 7.7 percent, a performance seen as a breakthrough as the billionaire had only announced his intention to run late last year.

Maverick ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a fixture in past elections, came fourth with 6.24 percent while former upper house speaker Sergei Mironov trailed in fifth place with 3.84 percent.

Turnout was 64 percent, according to the results published by the central election commission.

Putin's results were even stronger then predicted by opinion polls, even if they were down slightly on the ratings of over 70 percent that he won in the 2004 presidential elections and then by his protege Dmitry Medvedev in 2008.

The Russian strongman is now set for an inauguration expected in May to formally regain the Kremlin post he occupied for two terms from 2000 to 2008 before becoming prime minister under the presidency of Medvedev.