On March 26, 2000, Acting President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin, running with the backing of the Unity party, was elected by a sizable margin to a full 4-year term. As reported by the Central Election Commission, Putin received almost 53 percent, with 39,740,434 votes out of a field of 11 candidates and the option of voting against all candidates. His nearest competitor, Communist Party chairman Gennady Zyuganov, tallied a little under 30 percent with almost 22 million votes. The rest of the field showed single-digit percentages. More than 75 million people took part in the election, for a 68.74 percent turnout. A comparatively small number of voters, about 1.5 million, chose the none of the above option. Details of the election results are listed below.
The presidential election was occasioned by the abrupt resignation of President Boris Yeltsin on New Years Day, 2000, and his appointment of Prime Minister Putin as Acting President. Yeltsin had been elected to a second term in 1996.
As Acting President, Putin had promoted a no-compromise policy in pressing the war against Chechnya, and created an image of returning Russia to stability after the economic and social uncertainties of the Yeltsin presidency. Putin ran an almost above it all campaign, refusing to issue a platform or make significant election-oriented policy statements.
In its March 27, 2000 press release, the elections were characterized by the International Election Observation Mission (a joint effort of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office of Human Rights and Democratic Institutions, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and the Council of Europe) as “[marking] further progress for the consolidation of democratic elections in the Russian Federation.”
Both the Communist Party and Yabloko leadership claimed to have evidence of blatant violations in several regions. The final report of the OSCE/ODIHR observer mission also found that Notwithstanding the CEC effort to enforce the law vigorously, candidates, campaign organizations and supporters circumvented the law in some cases.