by Igor Serebryany
MOSCOW, March 4 (Xinhua) -- As Russian voters cast their ballots to select a new president, many say that their choice for a national leader was based on one rule - that is, who was most likely to bring stability and prosperity to Russia.
Outspoken supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is widely believed to win the election, believe that none other than him will be able to materialize what those catchwords stand for because of his deeds in his previous two terms of presidency from 2000 to 2008.
"I judge him (Putin) from his previous tenure as the president," said 30-year-old lawyer Yevgenia Martynova. "He has been the undisputed master of the nation while all the other candidates have no experience in running the country."
Iliya Balahanova, a public relations manager with a large advertising firm, said he voted for Putin mostly with regard to the international situation.
"Any change in the government will inevitably lead to a period of instability," Balahanova said. "I see nobody else except Putin among the candidates who could guarantee smooth and painless power transition. Russia needs no turbulence."
Among the respondents to Xinhua exit interviews, over half said that they had voted for Putin for his sincerity and ability to cash in his campaign promises.
"With Putin as the country's next president, Russia will for sure change from good to better through promised changes," said a voter known only by her given name Lydia.
A middle-aged man who declined to give his name told Xinhua that he had voted for one who would secure stability for his country.
Aside from Putin, who enjoys greater support among voters according to opinion polls, four other candidates also sought Russia's top job.
The four candidates are leader of the Communist Party Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Sergei Mironov from A Just Russia party and an independent candidate and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
Some of the respondents told Xinhua how their lives had improved during the 2000-2008 presidential tenures of Putin as Russia witnessed impressive economic growth during the period. Gross domestic product increased 72 percent in the eight years and poverty decreased by more than 50 percent. At the same time, average monthly salaries increased from 80 to 640 U.S. dollars.
Some old-timers, however, believed that they saw even better lives before Putin took power in 2000.
Eighty-year-old Yekaterina Korolyeva said that when the Communists were in power, life was better.
"I voted for Zyuganov," Korolyeva said.
Others voted with some emotional links.
"My husband used to work with Mironov shoulder by shoulder for several years. He is nearly our family member," said 43-year-old economist Yelena Dudaleva.
For 26-year-old translator Dina Mingalieva, however, voting for someone other than Putin was only to vent her discontent with the ruling United Russia party.
"I voted for Prokhorov to manifest my protest against the ruling party," Mingalieva said. "I voted him in the hope that he could steal enough votes to set off a run-off."
However, a run-off seemed already out of the question to one of the five presidential candidates Mironov.
"No second round will be needed. A president will be elected in the first round," the 59-year-old candidate said after casting his ballot in central Moscow on Sunday.
Special Report: Russia Presidential Election 2012