Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Vladimir Putin wins fourth term as Russian president with landslide vote

Patty Aguilar | 19 March, 2018, 00:46

With about a third of the ballots counted, more than 73.1 percent were for Putin, according to the Central Election Commission.

When she hadn't voted by midday, "The chief of my unit called me and said I was the only one who hadn't voted", said the doctor, Yekaterina, who spoke on condition her last name not be used because she also feared repercussions.

In Crimea, the territory Russian Federation says it has annexed from Ukraine, a few European politicians who are friendly with Putin are acting as election observers.

Russian opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak has cast her ballot and urged Vladimir Putin's critics to vote instead of boycotting.

Even so, Putin will use his next six years to assert his vision of a strong Russian Federation, according to Joerg Forbrig, senior program director of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

Commission chair Ella Pamfilova told reporters that it was a DDoS, or distributed denial of service, attempt tracked to computers in 15 countries, without naming them.

Given the lack of competition, authorities are struggling against voter apathy - and have put many of Russia's 111 million voters under intense pressure to cast ballots.

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 United States election.

Yevgeny Roizman, the mayor of Yekaterinburg, told The Associated Press that local officials and state employees all received orders "from higher up" to make sure the presidential vote turnout was over 60 percent.

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Security forces are surrounding Russian facilities in Ukraine amid anger over the Ukrainian government's refusal to allow ordinary Russians to vote for president.

Vladimir Putin is now leading with over 76 percent of the vote, well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off.

Vladimir Putin claimed victory Sunday after cruising to reelection, with authorities reporting high voter turnout in balloting that was widely expected to bring the Russian president a fourth term.

Millions of ethnic Russians live in Ukraine but the number of registered Russian voters in Ukraine is unclear.

Sunday's vote was also the first in Crimea since Russian Federation seized the region from Ukraine.

Ukrainian leaders are also angry over Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014. Authorities have spent unprecedented funds to get out the vote to ensure he has a strong mandate for his next six years in office.

He faced seven minor candidates on the ballot.

Some 145,000 observers were monitoring the voting in the world's largest country, including 1,500 foreigners and representatives from opposition leader Alexei Navalny's movement, and they and ordinary Russians reported hundreds of voting problems. Given a five-year suspended sentence, he says the conviction was politically motivated, to keep him out of the race.

There's been "widespread fraud" and observers have caught many instances of ballot-rigging on camera, according to Open Russia, an opposition organization founded by former oil tycoon and Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The problems included multiple ballot boxes placed out of sight of observation cameras, and last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout.

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