Vladimir Putin To Rule Russia For Another Six Years After Landslide Election Victory

Vladimir Putin won a landslide reelection victory on Sunday, extending his rule over the world’s largest country for another six years at a time when his ties with the West are on a hostile trajectory.

Putin’s thumping victory will extend his total time in office to nearly a quarter of a century, until 2024, by which time he will be 71. Only Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ruled for longer. Putin has promised to use his new term to beef up Russia’s defences against the west and to raise living standards.

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In a widely-expected result, an exit poll by pollster VTsIOM showed Putin, who has already dominated the political landscape for the last 18 years, had won 73.9% of the vote. Backed by state TV, the ruling party, and credited with an approval rating around 80%, his victory was never in doubt.

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None of the seven candidates who ran against him posed a threat, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was barred from running.

Critics alleged that officials had compelled people to come to the polls to ensure that voter boredom at the one-sided contest did not lead to a low turnout.

Russia’s central election commission recognised that there were some irregularities, but was likely to dismiss wider criticism and declare the overall result legitimate.
Putin loyalists said the result was a vindication of his tough stance towards western powers.

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“I think that in the US and Britain they’ve understood they cannot influence our elections,” said Igor Morozov, a member of the upper house of parliament.

“Our citizens understand what sort of situation Russian finds itself in today.”

The immediate question following the result is whether Putin’s opponents, such as Navalny, organise protests.

A senior opposition politician has warned that demonstrations could descend into street clashes if police crack down too hard.

More to follow…