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Putin easily wins re-election as Russian president

20 March, 2018, 04:14 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • British foreign secretary says Vladimir Putin may have ordered the nerve agent attack on ex-spy

Pavel Lobkov, a presenter on the liberal Russian Internet TV station Dozhd, said that the on-air battle may have aided the Kremlin by drawing attention away from reports of violations that had lit up social networks during the voting.

The election came with Russian Federation facing increasing isolation on the world stage over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of United States sanctions. The Central Election Commission said that with about a third of the ballots counted, more than 73.1 percent were for Putin. He said, "We are a great big team together and I am a member of your team".

In the absence of doubt over the outcome, the main focus of the election has become voter turnout - with the Kremlin seeking a strong mandate for Putin and Navalny calling for a boycott of polls he denounces as a sham.

"It is precisely the will of the people, the will of every citizen of Russia, that will determine what path our country takes", Putin said in a video circulated across Russian media outlets late on Thursday.

Mr Putin faces seven challengers but none poses a serious threat.

The first politician in years to challenge the Kremlin's grip on power, Alexei Navalny, is barred from the race because of a corruption conviction he says was fabricated.

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said on Sunday that the voter turnout in Russian presidential election indicates that Vladimir Putin has genuine support in Russia.

At a polling station in central Moscow near the House of Government, the workplace of the Russian Prime Minister, employees of a construction firm told CNN that the company's management provided transportation to the polls early Sunday.

Putin loyalists said the result was a vindication of his tough stance towards the West.

The election took place on the fourth anniversary of the 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, one of the most dramatic manifestations of Putin's drive to reassert Russia's power.

Voters in Sevastopol, Crimea were given a medal engraved "With Russia forever", RIA-Novosti reported, to commemorate the 2014 independence referendum, considered illegitimate by Ukraine, the USA and its European allies.

Many voters credit Putin, a 65-year-old former KGB spy, with standing up for Russia's interests in what they view as a hostile outside world.

Putin's bellicose language reached a crescendo before the election in a state-of-the-nation speech when he unveiled new nuclear weapons, saying they could hit nearly any point in the world and evade a US-built missile shield.

The Russian military campaign that bolsters the Syrian government is clearly aimed at strengthening Russia's foothold in the Middle East and Russia eagerly eyes possible reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula as a lucrative economic opportunity. But he has not groomed a successor, prompting speculation he may try to find ways to extend his power beyond this term.

Casting his ballot in Moscow, Putin was confident of victory, saying he would consider any percentage of votes a success. "I am sure of the correctness of the course that I propose for the country", he said, according to state news agency RIA-Novosti.

Putin told supporters on Sunday that his landslide election win showed the "confidence and hope" of the Russian people.

Yevgeny, a 43-year-old mechanic voting in central Moscow, said he briefly wondered whether it was worth voting.

"But the answer was easy. if I want to keep working, I vote", he said.

"Putin isn't going to retreat an inch", said Evgeny Minchenko, a Moscow-based political consultant who advises the Kremlin.

Putin won 63.6 percent of the vote in 2012, and, if the early results are confirmed, he will now stay in his post until 2024, the year he turns 72.

In one case, a senior election official inspecting a polling station said the photographs of voting should not be allowed, and ordered election staff there to stamp it out.

Near-final figures put turnout at 67.7 percent, just shy of the 70 percent the Kremlin was reported to have been aiming for before the vote.

Election officials moved quickly to respond to some of the violations. Several showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers.



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