Vladimir Putin Claims Victory In Russia’s Presidential Election
Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after securing an expected victory in the presidential election.
With more than half of ballots counted, he had received 75% of the vote, the central election commission said.
The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.
Addressing a rally in Moscow after the early results were declared, Mr Putin said voters had “recognised the achievements of the last few years”.
Speaking to reporters after his win, he laughed off a question about running again in another six years.
“What you are saying is a bit funny. Do you think that I will stay here until I’m 100 years old? No!” he said.
The scale of victory – which had been widely predicted – appears to be a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64%.
Mr Putin’s nearest competitor, Pavel Grudinin, had received 13.2% so far, according to the central election commission.
Mr Grudinin is a millionaire communist, but the race also included a former reality television host, Ksenia Sobchak, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
A state exit poll put the turnout at 63.7%, down on 2012. Mr Putin’s campaign had hoped for a large turnout, to give him the strongest possible mandate.
His campaign team said it was an “incredible victory”.
“The percentage that we have just seen speaks for itself. It’s a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make,” a spokesman told Russia’s Interfax.
Putin’s opponents on Sunday’s ballot included a nationalist, a Communist and two liberals. But Putin barely campaigned, opposition activist Alexei Navalny was barred from the ballot, and reports of ballot-stuffing and people ordered to vote by their employers rolled in throughout the day.
With about two-thirds of the ballots counted, more than 75 percent were for Putin, according to the Central Election Commission. The runner-up was Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, with 12.7 percent.
“Success awaits us!” Putin told supporters in central Moscow. “Together, we will get to work on a great, massive scale, in the name of Russia.”
The biggest question as Russians went to the polls on Sunday was the level of turnout, and uncertainty on the final tally lingered into the night in Moscow. While independent surveys show that most Russians continue to approve of Putin as president, a lack of suspense or popular opposition candidates threatened to keep people home. The Kremlin, analysts say, was looking for a high turnout to deliver legitimacy for another Putin term.
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