Vladimir Putin, Russia Prime Minister, Says Drop In Support Was Inevitable

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VLADIMIR PUTIN
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks at a meeting with the heads of regional public offices of the United Russia rulling party, in Moscow on December 6, 2011. | Getty
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MOSCOW (AP) Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he's satisfied with the performance of his party in Russia's parliamentary election even though it lost a significant number of seats.

Putin told supporters Tuesday that his United Russia party has retained a "stable" majority in parliament, adding that a drop in support for any ruling party is inevitable.

United Russia won about 50 percent of Sunday's vote, a result that opposition politicians and election monitors said was inflated because of ballot-box stuffing and other vote fraud. It was a significant drop from 2007 when the party won 64 percent.

The results reflected public fatigue with Putin's authoritarian streak and endemic official corruption, signaling that his return to the presidency in next March's election may not be as trouble-free as he expected.

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