Putin Supporters Rally in Moscow

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures as he attends a massive rally in support of him at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow,  Russia, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. Tens of thousands of people marched along the Moscow River and then packed a soccer stadium on Thursday for a campaign rally in support of  Putin. Many of them appeared to be state employees who attended at the behest of their employers.(AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Yana Lapikova, Government Press Service)

    Yana Lapikova, Government Press Service / AP Photo

    Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of Moscow to call for democratic reforms in past weeks, but on Thursday supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gathered in a packed soccer stadium to hear the candidate speak before the March 4 presidential election. A win will guarantee Putin a six-year term as president. It was a rare appearance for Putin, who has declined to debate his opponents in the presidential race. He addressed the estimated 100,000 people gathered, saying that he would win the election. “We are a nation of victors,” said Putin, who’s received a reported 70 percent of airtime on state-sponsored television. “The battle for Russia is raging on. We’ll be victorious.”

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