Russian President Vladimir Putin wins, gets another six-year term

NEW DELHI, March 19, 2018: Russian President Vladimir Putin was elected unopposed on Sunday, extending his rule over the world’s largest country for another six years, media reports said on Monday.

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 strengthen Russia’s defences against the West and to raise living standards.

An exit poll by pollster VTsIOM showed Putin, who has already dominated the political landscape for the last 18 years, had won 73.9 percent of the vote, said the reports. Backed by state TV, the ruling party, and credited with an approval rating around 80 percent, his victory was never in doubt, they said.

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.

Media reports said 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 the West.

“I think that in the United States and Britain they’ve understood they cannot influence our elections,” Igor Morozov, a member of the upper house of parliament,” said on state television, adding, “Our citizens understand what sort of situation Russian finds itself in today.”

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