MOSCOW: Vladimir Putin on Sunday declared victory in Russia's presidential elections at a mass rally outside the Kremlin walls, telling his voters they helped avert attempts to break up the Russian state.
Putin and outgoing Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev walked out side by side before a throng of more than 100,000 supporters outside the Kremlin following the release of early results that showed him winning more than 60 percent of the vote.
"We won today... thanks to the overwhelming support of the overwhelming majority of our voters. We have won in an open and honest battle," said Putin.
"I promised you that we will win. And we won. Glory to Russia!" he shouted as the crowd cheered back in unison.
Live state television footage of the event showed Putin wiping tears from his eyes before speaking in the windy and chilly night.
"We have shown that our people can easily tell apart the desire for novelty and renewal from political provocations that have only one goal in mind -- to break up the Russian state and to usurp power," said Putin.
"This was a very important test for us all, for our people. This was a test of political maturity, our self-reliance, our independence. We have proven that no one can impose anything on us. No one and nothing," he added with emotion in his voice.
The campaign saw Putin repeatedly accuse the US State Department of inciting the opposition rallies that emerged from fraud-tainted December parliamentary poll and which posed the first serious challenge to his 12-year rule.
Medvedev for his part kept to the marginal role he had played throughout Putin's election campaign by simply introducing Putin to the crowd as their next president.
"I have no doubts in our victory," said Medvedev.
"This victory is something we all need very much. The whole country needs it. Each one of us needs it," he said.
The outgoing president is set to take Putin's current job of prime minister under a swap the two men agreed in private and announced to the dismay of the opposition movement in September.