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Putin's huge victory deflates, divides Russian opposition

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crushing re-election victory puts his opponents in a tough spot.

They gathered widespread examples of apparent voting violations in Sunday’s vote, but it’s unlikely to seriously damage Putin given his widespread support.

With 99.8 percent of the vote counted, results showed Putin won almost 77 percent of the vote, well up from his showing in the last election in 2012.

His closest rival, communist Pavel Grudinin, had less than 12 percent. The only candidate to openly criticize Putin in the campaign, TV star Ksenia Sobchak, got less than 2 percent.

Putin’s most serious foe, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race. He clashed publicly with Sobchak on Sunday night, accusing her of being a Kremlin stooge.

Opposition groups plan a rally Monday in Moscow.

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