Putin savours record win, securing six more years at Russia's helm

19 March, 2018, 15:37 | Author: Wade Massey

An exit poll suggests that Vladimir Putin has handily won a fourth term as Russia's president, adding six more years in the Kremlin for the man who has led the world's largest country for all of the 21st century.

The election was such a foregone conclusion that Putin gave only a perfunctory victory speech and said nothing about what he will do for his country.

How long Putin wants to stay in power is uncertain.

Pamfilova said that with 99.8 percent of votes counted, President Vladimir Putin has 76.7 percent of the vote, his highest score ever.

The opposition said the results were rigged but Putin's supporters said Western pressure on Putin including Britain's accusations in a spy row prompted Russians to close ranks behind their leader. His most vocal opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running.

The electoral commission said official turnout was 67 percent, but the figure marred by widespread account of workers being coerced to vote and numerous incidents of ballot stuffing.

Moscow, Mar 19 Vladimir Putin today faced another six years in power after a record win in Russia's presidential election, but congratulations from overseas were largely muted after opponents accused him of rigging the vote and Moscow's relations with the West worsened. "I am confident that with you outstanding talent of a leader with a clear understanding and inflexible will, responsibility and commitment to your cause, you will continue to achieve success in solving all issues important for Russian Federation and in implementing plans for its further comprehensive development", the statement said.

Russia is now at odds with the West over Syria, Ukraine; allegations of cyber attacks and meddling in foreign elections; and the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter. He then clashed publicly with Sobchak on Sunday night, accusing her of being a Kremlin stooge.

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In the runup to the vote, a new crisis broke out with the West as Britain implicated Putin in the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal with a Soviet-designed nerve agent.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of Liberal-Democratic Party of Russian Federation is third, he got 6.95 percent.

Cuban leader Raul Castro congratulated Putin on winning the presidential election, Cuba's ambassador to Russia Gerardo Penalver Portal said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a news conference after meeting with his staff at the campaign headquarters in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 18, 2018. Several cases of people stuffing ballot boxes at polling stations, including near Moscow, were recorded on cameras set up by the authorities to ensure a transparent vote.

Most world leaders, however, did not rush to congratulate the Russian president. "This goal has no relation whatsoever to the result of the vote", she said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down suggestions on Monday that tensions with the West had boosted turnout, saying the result showed that people were united behind Putin's plans to develop Russian Federation.

In his next six years, Putin is likely to assert Russia's power overseas even more strongly.

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