MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin (search) claimed victory early Monday as voters overwhelmingly handed him a second four-year term that had long been seen as a foregone conclusion.
"I promise you, that for the next four years, I will work in the same mode," Putin said, appearing before reporters tieless, wearing a black sweater under a black jacket.
Putin first thanked voters for turning out, and then thanked those who supported him. He promised to ensure further economic growth, strengthen civil institutions and media freedom.
"All the democratic achievements will be guaranteed," he said.