Russian President Vladimir Putin has obtained the backing of nearly three - quarters of the country's potential voters and looks set to easily win another term in office in the upcoming presidential election, according to an official poll released on Thursday.
Support for Putin increased by 1. 5 per cent compared to a similar survey conducted in January, with 71. 4 per cent of citizens now expressing their intention to vote for him, the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM) was cited as saying by Efe news.
Putin would thus likely defeat his main opponent, Pavel Grudinin of the Communist Party - - who only garnered 6. 9 per cent of voting intention in the poll - - if the March 18 election were held today, the report said.
Grudinin's lacklustre figures represented a - 0. 3 per cent decrease compared to the previous survey.
Other candidates fared even worse.
Coming in third position, Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the ultra - nationalist Liberal Democratic Party was backed by 5. 7 per cent of the respondents while journalist Ksenia Sobchak, the only female contender for the Kremlin, obtained 1. 3 per cent of the intended vote.
The four remaining runners to head the country polled at abysmal levels below 1 per cent, including Grigory Yavlinsky, who spearheads the social - liberal Russian United Democratic Party.
According to VCIOM's data, 79. 3 per cent of the poll's respondents said they would vote in the election.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Progress Party, Alexei Navalny - - a vociferous Putin critic and anti - corruption crusader - - has been barred from running for office due to prior convictions for embezzlement.
Navalny has denied the charges as a "frame - up plotted by the Kremlin".
While pollsters have stopped including him as a potential candidate, a survey by the Levada Centre in April 2017 showed that 18 per cent of those who recognized Navalny would either "definitely" or "probably" vote for him.
Putin was President from 2000 - 08, Prime Minister between 1999 - 2000 and 2008 - 12, and has been the incumbent President again since he won a third stint in 2012 after a constitutional reform abolished term limits.
If he were to win re - election in March, he would serve for another six years until 2024.