Putin records landslide victory in Russia's presidential poll

Pauline Gross
March 21, 2018

Leaders of the observation mission for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Russian state media's extensive coverage of Mr Putin's activities gave him a significant advantage in the race.

Russian voters are gearing up for a presidential election Sunday that Vladimir Putin is guaranteed to win.

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

Some examples: ballot boxes being stuffed with extra ballots in multiple regions; an election official assaulting an observer; CCTV cameras obscured by flags or nets from watching ballot boxes; discrepancies in ballot numbers; last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout and a huge pro-Putin board inside one polling station.

"Leave people alone", Pamfilova said at a recent session of the commission. "If I want to keep working, I vote", he said. He spoke on condition that his last name not be used out of concern that his employer - the Moscow city government - would find out. Mobile-phone subscribers received SMS notifications reminding them to vote.

In 2012, the turnout was 65 percent with Putin receiving more than 63 percent of the votes.

Election monitoring group Golos and online groups set up to record violations reported scores of problems Sunday.

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Western sanctions on Russia imposed over Crimea and Moscow's backing of a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine remain in place and have damaged the Russian economy, which only rebounded past year after a prolonged downturn.

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It comes as Russia's Central Election Commission said it was quickly responding to claims of violations in the presidential vote. They are facing unusually intense pressure to vote, to grant him a convincing new mandate to pursue his nationalist strategy.

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The Central Election Commission allocated more than $13 million to publicize the election. Billboards and public-service announcements also reminded eligible voters to go to the polls.

Putin, who has been accused of interfering with the US presidential election in 2016, voted at a polling station in central Moscow on a bitterly cold but sunny morning.

Turnout-boosting efforts have been the most visible feature of the campaign - and all come from taxpayers' pockets. 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.

With nearly all of the votes counted in Russia's presidential election, the state-run Russia Public Opinion Research Center published an exit poll that showed Vladimir Putin with 76.6% of the vote.

In Moscow, first-time voters were being given free tickets for pop concerts, and health authorities were offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations.

In the southern city of Tambov, the state-sponsored Youth Parliament has called an Instagram competition.

Putin has traveled across Russian Federation, pledging to raise wages, pour more funds into crumbling health care and education and modernize dilapidated infrastructure.

Among Putin's challengers is Ksenia Sobchak, a 36-year-old TV host who has campaigned on a liberal platform and criticized Putin's policies.

Other reports by GizPress

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