Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Russian Federation votes as Vladimir Putin poised for 4th presidential term

EPA-EFE  JIM LO SCALZO EPA-EFE JIM LO SCALZO
Melinda Barton | 19 March, 2018, 17:07

According to Russia's Central Election Commission, incumbent head of state Vladimir Putin has garnered 76.65% of the vote in the March 18 election with 99% of the ballots counted.

Other candidates - former reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky - secured less than 2% and 6% votes respectively.

In a rally marking the four-year anniversary of the annexation of Crimea in central Moscow that coincided with Election Day, Putin appealed for supporters to "make a breakthrough" in the "very hard, complex tasks ahead".

Spokesman for Putin's campaign Andrei Kondrashov said that at more than 67 percent, turnout was 8 to 10 percentage points higher than expected.

With more than 56 million votes, it was Putin's biggest ever win and the largest by any post-Soviet Russian leader.

Rising tensions with the West over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain, and new sanctions from Washington over alleged election meddling, strengthen the impression of a Russian Federation at loggerheads with the rest of the world.

On Sunday, Russia's Central Election Commission claimed it had been the target of a hacking attempt coming from 15 unidentified nations that was deterred by authorities.

In a change, people can vote at any polling station.

Voters were casting ballots across the world's largest country, from the Pacific coast to Siberia and Moscow.

Alexei Navalny, an outspoken Putin critic who was barred from running for president himself, called on his supporters to boycott the vote. For older voters, Moscow health authorities will be offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations.

Close to 109 people were registered to cast ballots at 100,000 voting stations across the 85 regions and republics of the Russian Federation.

Civic Chamber's website observing the election at one time was down and commission's website was also attacked soon after voting began.

He criticised the seven contenders challenging Mr Putin for failing to protest against ballot stuffing and other irregularities tainting the election, saying on his blog that "such candidates aren't worthy of your vote".

Since first being elected as president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on Russian Federation muzzling opposition and reasserting Moscow s lost might overseas.

"China is willing to work with Russia to keep promoting China-Russia relations to a higher level, provide driving force for respective national development in both countries, and promote regional and global peace and tranquility", Xi said.

"Ahead is either passing power to a prepared successor or redoing the Constitution to preserve personal power", it wrote, saying that Putin faces "risks ahead". He has led the country for nearly two decades - either as president or prime minister.

Many voters credit Putin, a 65-year-old former KGB spy, with standing up for Russia's interests in a hostile outside world, even though the cost is confrontation with the West.

Four years ago on March 18, Russian Federation annexed Crimea.