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Vladimir Putin named politician of the year in Russian state-run poll

Russians have named Vladimir Putin their politician of the year. (AP)
Russians have named Vladimir Putin their politician of the year. (AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A Moscow state-running polling company has claimed that Russians have voted Vladimir Putin their politician of the year.

The pro-government Russian Public Opinion Research Center has announced Putin as the winner of the poll every year since it was launched in 2006.

The pollsters claimed the Russian president scored over half (55%) of the vote.

Putin was followed by Mikhail Mishustin, the head of the Russian government, with 21% of the vote, and then foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who polled 13% of the vote.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone to seven-year-old David Shmelev from Stavropol Krai region, a participant of the Fir Tree of Wishes charity campaign via videoconference from the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Vladimir Putin has consistently topped the poll since it first began in 2006. (AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Putin and his aides are known to keep an iron grip on the media in Russia, meaning citizens are not likely to be exposed to the realities of the war in Ukraine and Putin's decline in popularity with the Russian elite.

Russian TV and newspapers have continually repeated the Kremlin's false claim that the Ukraine invasion is a "special operation" targeting neo-Nazis.

During the Ukraine war, the Russian News Agency (TASS) has made a series of false claims, including that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had fled Kyiv following the invasion – before Zelenskyy used social media to refute the claims.

Watch: Did Putin's army obey his ceasefire order?

TASS also claimed "Ukrainian nationalists" were responsible for Ukrainian civilians not being able to leave the city of Mariupol while it was heavily bombed by the Russian military.

Putin has recently sacked another general after just three months in the job, following a series of Russian losses.

Sergey Surovikin had been brought in to take charge of the war in October but was demoted following key losses – including the Russian retreat from the city of Kherson.

Russian President Vladimir Putin awards General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, with the Order of St. George, Third Class, at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, Russia December 31, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
General Sergei Surovikin (l) has been sacked as commander of Russian forces in Ukraine after just three months. (Reuters) (Sputnik Photo Agency / reuters)

The sacking has been viewed as a political move to manage tensions between senior Russian officials, with rumours of a power struggle within the Kremlin following a series of tactical losses.

Putin has faced accusations of election rigging to win the Russian presidency.

In 2018 he secured over 76% of the vote – an increase from 64% in 2012 – in a vote that saw the main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, barred from the race.

A local resident runs past a burning house hit by the Russian shelling in Kherson, Ukraine, on the Orthodox Christmas Eve Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
A local resident runs past a burning house hit by the Russian shelling in Kherson, Ukraine. (AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Free food and discounts were on offer near polling stations, while videos shared on social media appeared to show election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers.

Independent election monitoring group Golos also reported that observers were barred from entering polling stations, while people were thought to be forced to vote by being bussed to polling stations.

In 2021 Putin's party won a parliamentary majority, with more irregularities noted by Golos.

The US State Department said the election conditions had not been conducive to free and fair proceedings, while the UK government called the vote a setback for democratic freedom.