West Wary As Putin Wins Fourth Term With Record Vote

Cheryl Sanders
March 19, 2018

Vladimir Putin has won the Russian Presidential election by an overwhelming majority.

The Central Election Commission, with almost 100% of the votes counted, announced that Vladimir Putin, who has run Russian Federation as president or prime minister since 1999, had won 76.68% of the vote.

The election comes as Mr Putin faces escalating row with the west over United Kingdom allegations that the Kremlin was behind the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, in Salisbury on March 4th.

Marine Le Pen's National Front party in France has congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning the Russian presidential election, seeing in his large victory a sign of Russia's "stability and democratic foundations".

"Our thoughts will turn to the future of our great country and the future of our children", said the man who is already Russia's longest-serving leader since Stalin.

Six years ago in the last election some 85 percent of Russian voters participating in the election in Estonia went for Putin as well.

Navalny said his team planned to stage protests but released few details.

The Russian strongman ran against seven other candidates, but his most vocal critic Alexei Navalny was barred from the ballot for legal reasons and the final outcome was never in doubt.

Russia's Central Election Commission recognized that there were some irregularities, but was likely to dismiss wider criticism and declare the overall result legitimate.

But Mr Putin's popularity remained strong, apparently buttressed by nationalist pride.

Heiko Maas said as he arrived Monday at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels: "We assume that Russian Federation will remain a hard partner, but Russian Federation is also needed when it comes to solving major worldwide conflicts".

Maas said: "The result of the election in Russian Federation surprised us just as little as the circumstances of this election - we certainly can't talk in every aspect about a fair political contest as we know it".

Video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russian Federation.

One election commission worker in the republic of Dagestan, which traditionally registers extremely high official turnout figures, told AFP around 50 men entered the station where he was working and physically assaulted an observer before stuffing a ballot box.

Central election commission chair Ella Pamfilova outlined to reporters Monday authorities' efforts to fight violations and hold a transparent election. Russian lawmakers have claimed that the incident is "provocation" meant to vilify their country during the election.

Across the country in the city of Yekaterinburg, a doctor also said she was being coerced to vote.

They gathered widespread examples of apparent voting violations in Sunday's vote, but it's unlikely to seriously damage Putin given his widespread support. The only candidate to openly criticize Putin during the campaign, liberal TV star Ksenia Sobchak, won just 1.7 percent.

With 99.8 percent of the vote counted, results showed Putin won nearly 77 percent of the vote, well up from his showing in the last election in 2012.

The main opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, could not run due to a criminal conviction for embezzlement he says was ordered to stop him from taking part. On Sunday he lashed out at Ms Sobchak, accusing her of accepting a huge amount of money to stand in the election, in which she had been used as an "instrument of Putin" and as "a caricature liberal candidate".

Other reports by iNewsToday