Vladimir Putin wins Russian presidential election with more than 75 percent

Pauline Gross
March 19, 2018

No other country has such open and transparent elections. Putin turns 72 in 2024.

Exit polls showed Putin winning 74 percent of the vote, while his nearest rival, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, was projected to take just over 11 percent. When the authorities barred him for running this year because of controversial embezzlement charges, he called on his base to boycott the elections entirely.

The Kremlin's voter mobilization effort appeared to have worked.

"I will not go to vote".

"There is no alternative", Zhenya Kiva, a 20-year-old student, said earlier in the day, after casting his ballot for Mr. Putin.

Russian media have cited Kremlin sources hoping that the increased turnout among the country's 111 million registered voters would improve the legitimacy of the election in the eyes of the global community.

Election officials have responded similarly to allegations of ballot stuffing in the town of Lyubertsy just outside Moscow and the far eastern town of Artyom and have been looking into several other complaints.

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, alleged Kremlin meddling in the U.S. presidential election, and Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria, have been condemned in the West.

"I don't believe I'm going to influence anything", he told CNN. Putin urged voters to "use your power to choose the future of our great country" during a televised address before the election. Throughout Sunday, social media commenters and Navalny's team tracked reported violations as they came in. They included discrepancies in ballot numbers, ballot boxes placed out of sight of observation cameras and last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout.

People cast their ballots at a polling station in Yelizovo, about 30 kilometres north-east from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, capital of Kamchatka Peninsula region.

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Election monitors were reporting irregularities at voting stations across Russian Federation, even though election authorities were under orders to ensure that the voting was free and fair after violations marred Putin's last election in 2012.

Turnout nationwide was at 51.9 per cent by mid-afternoon, official data showed. Voting fraud was widespread in Russia's 2011 parliamentary vote, triggering massive protests in Moscow against Putin's rule.

Putin's thumping victory will extend his total time in office to almost a quarter of a century, until 2024, by which time he will be 71. Many Russian voters, though, see no alternative.

"People are being aggressively advised to vote, and then report in after they've voted", said Vitaly Kovin, a member of Golos, an independent election monitoring organization.

How long Putin wants to stay in power is uncertain.

"I never changed the constitution, especially for it to benefit me and I do not have this kind of intention today", he told NBC in March.

There's also former reality-TV star Ksenia Sobchak, who's run a campaign critical of Putin while laboring under accusations from opposition leader Alexey Navalny that the Kremlin encouraged her candidacy to add sparkle to the lackluster contest. "I would particularly like to highlight your personal contribution to the development of friendly and good-neighborly relations between our countries, which constitute an example of strategic partnership and allied relations", he added.

It is a reaction that some political analysts say sums up the role of "spoiler" candidates in this year's election - names put forward by the Kremlin whose sole objective is to split the opposition vote and increase interest in predictable elections. After he declined in a live broadcast to align with her newly formed opposition party, the two politicians bickered emotionally on air.

Putin has thanked voters for their support at a victory rally, saying Russian Federation had a great future ahead of it provided its people stayed united.

Other reports by GizPress

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