Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Putin says he will engage with the West after record vote win

Yuri Maltsev  Reuters Yuri Maltsev Reuters
Patty Aguilar | 20 March, 2018, 04:03

Less than three minutes after he stepped on stage, Putin was gone, leaving the crowd to chant "Russia!" and wave their flags in the cold Moscow night without him.

Putin won a record fourth term to extend his 18-year-rule until 2024 with nearly 77 percent of the vote, the highest ever score in a Russian presidential election, according to near-final results.

Sunday's result - in which Putin won close to 77 percent of the vote, according to preliminary figures - confirmed his grip on power and marked the biggest landslide win in the history of Russian presidential elections.

Russia's Central Election Commission said on Monday morning it had not registered any serious complaints about violations, and there were half as many irregularities as reported in the last election in 2012.

French leader Emmanuel Macron telephoned Mr Putin to wish Russia and its people success, and the Russian leader is understood to have responded by denying his country's involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

Critics said citizens were compelled to turn out in order to prevent the poll's integrity from being called into question if low turn out based on voter apathy is recorded. Navalny, who was barred from running in the elections over a criminal conviction, had called for a boycott of the vote in an attempt to reduce the turn-out and thus reduce the legitimacy of Putin's expected victory.

The head of Mr Putin's campaign team, Andrei Kondrashov, suggested that the "groundless" British accusations had encouraged voters to rally around the president.

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first to comment on the Russian vote, announcing that Berlin would "soon" send a telegram congratulating Putin on his re-election in a message that will also raise "challenges" in their relations. However, analysts say that Putin has some problems with his top policymakers on the economic strategy for the new term.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier congratulated Mr Putin in his re-election and said he hoped he would use his new term in office to "counter alienation on our continent and between the peoples of Russian Federation and Germany".

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Both their sentences were reduced on appeal, and they were eventually pardoned and released after serving about two years each. Lee will probably become the fourth former president to face criminal charges.

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The pair faced off in a three-set duel in the Indian Wells final on Sunday, with Del Potro coming out on top. Del Potro and Osaka each earned $1.3 million. "It's disappointing, but I thought it was a good match".

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Nothing is impossible in Russian politics, but "No Putin, no Russia" can not be the winning formula for ever. It also came amid reports of widespread pressure on voters and a crackdown on the opposition.

Mr. Putin also indicated he might not run Russian Federation beyond 2024, telling reporters who asked whether he would still seek another term in 2024: "Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old? No!"

His nearest rival, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, won 11.8 percent, according to near final results, while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 5.6 percent.

Putin, who is now set to extend his rule until at least 2024 and is already Russia's longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin, appeared to rule out remaining president for life.

Critics accuse him of overseeing a corrupt, authoritarian system and of illegally annexing Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, a move that isolated Russian Federation internationally.

"Currently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the best level in history, which sets an example for building a new type of worldwide relations", Xi said in a congratulatory message to Putin carried by the official Xinhua News Agency. Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old?

Putin, who's also been accused of cyber-attacks and election meddling, including in the US 2016 presidential vote, secured the results despite opposition calls for a boycott.

Saying that Russian Federation had to further strengthen its defences, he added: "I would like to tell you straight away that no-one intends to unleash some kind of arms race".

Simonyan has always been known for sharp-tongued barbs directed at the Western media, Kremlin critics, and Putin's opponents. Russia is now at odds with the West over Syria and Ukraine; allegations of cyberattacks and meddling in foreign elections; and the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

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