MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin will win about two thirds of the vote in Russia's presidential election, avoiding a humiliating second round run-off in his bid to extend his rule by another six years, the last major poll before the vote showed on Friday.
Prime Minister Putin hopes to convincingly win the March 4 election to take the sting out of a growing urban protest movement which casts him as an authoritarian leader who rules through a corrupt and tightly controlled political system.
The survey from Levada Center, Russia's biggest independent pollster, showed Putin will win 63-66 percent of the vote on March 4, far ahead of his closest rival.
Winning the election will give Putin, who has ruled Russia as president and prime minister since rising to power in late 1999, a six-year term as Kremlin chief.
In 2000, Putin won 53 percent of the vote and in 2004 he won 71 percent of the vote, according to official results. His protege, Dmitry Medvedev, won 70 percent of the vote in 2008 when Putin was barred from running by constitutional limits.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Maria Tsvetkova, editing by Thomas Grove)