Narendra Modi congratulates Vladimir Putin on reelection as Russian president

20 March, 2018, 04:51 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Vladimir Putin Wins Election, According To Early Results

Mikhail Zygar, the former editor-in-chief of Russia's only independent news channel, Dozhd, wrote in TIME that "Putin's psychology underwent an irreversible transformation" following his term as prime minister.

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 nearest an opponent got was 11 percent of the votes in favor of Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin.

Seemingly in response to this boycott, Russian authorities' main goal in Sunday's election was not necessarily to secure Putin's victory (that was seen as a given), but rather to push turnout as high as possible to make the elections appear legitimate, both at home and overseas.

"Of course I'm for Putin, he's a leader", said Olga Matyunina, a 65-year-old retired economist.

Among the handful of other leaders to congratulate Putin so far were Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has just been handed a second term himself and has gained a path to indefinite rule after presidential term limits were lifted last week.

"We will think about the future of our great Motherland", said Putin in a victory speech near Red Square, calling for renewed support after a win that he called a vote of confidence, earned under hard times, according to Reuters.

"It goes without saying that not everything depends on us - as with love, both sides have to be involved, otherwise there can be no love at all", he said.

The results will probably bolster Putin's adversarial approach to the West. Putin's most notable bit of campaigning before the vote was a display of new nuclear missiles meant to reassert Russia's role on the world stage.

The Russian leader's popularity remains high despite his suppression of dissent and reproach from the West over Russia's increasingly aggressive stance in world affairs and alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election. But he would be eligible to stand for a fifth term in 2030 - when he will be 77 - as Russian law only stipulates that presidents can not serve more than two consecutive terms of office. First, ballot stuffing was arguably the most blatant form of election manipulation, especially when polling stations were fitted with cameras. Opposition leader and blogger Alexei Navalny, who has built a career around lambasting Putin and his political party United Russia as a gang of "crooks and thieves", was barred from running in this past weekend's election due to a 2017 re-conviction for embezzlement (a past conviction for the same crime had previously been overturned by Russia's Supreme Court).

"All of these are lies from the beginning to the end, you were used to turn even more people away from the opposition", Navalny replied, before calling Sobchak "Putin's tool".

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Since Putin's domestic popularity bumps whenever he stands up to the West, expect more tough talk from Putin the next time he faces threats at home, and bolder Russian vetoes at the UN Security Council of anything seen as threatening Moscow's interests.

And a parade of pro-Kremlin commentators, politicians, and officials claimed that Putin's victory represented nothing less than the unity and determination of a people under siege.

Saying there would be no "arms race", he promised to cut defence spending.

Among those unabashedly singing Putin's praises was the chief editor of one of Russia's most prominent news organizations: RT.

Selfie competitions, giveaways, food festivals and children's entertainers were laid on at polling stations to entice voters.

Western media struggled with how to report the results of an election in a gangster state like Putin's Russian Federation.

Putin's victory will take his political dominance of Russian Federation to almost a quarter of a century, until 2024, by which time he will be 71.

"Ever since, making Russian Federation great again has become a new ideology for Putin".

How long Mr Putin wants to stay in power is uncertain.

The real question was not whether Putin would win, but how high the voter turnout would be.

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