West Wary As Putin Wins Fourth Term With Record Vote

Nellie Chapman
March 20, 2018

Russia will remain a hard partner, Germany's new foreign minister has said following the re-election of Vladimir Putin as Russian president.

Putin, 65, 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.

Russian voters gave Vladimir Putin a resounding approval for a fourth term as President, with figures from the Central Election Commission on Monday showing him winning with 76.68 per cent of the vote, his highest score ever, despite opposition activists highlighting a number of cases of vote rigging.

In a late night victory speech in Moscow, Mr Putin told a cheering crowd he interpreted the win as a vote of confidence in what he had achieved in the last few years in tough conditions.

Vladimir Putin, who has led Russian Federation since 2000, is now set to lead the world's largest country until 2024.

"It goes without saying that not everything depends on us - as with love, both sides have to be involved, otherwise there can be no love at all", he said. There were half as many reported violations as in the last election in 2012, while Putin's "unprecedented" level of support showed that society had consolidated in the face of pressure from overseas, she said. "But Russia will also be needed for solutions to the big global conflicts and so we want to remain in dialogue", he said. His most vocal opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running.

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French President Emmanuel Macron was one of the few Western leaders to speak by telephone to Mr. Putin on Monday, wishing Russian Federation and its people success in modernising the country. "What, do you think I will sit (in power) until I'm 100 years old?" he said, calling the question "funny".

In some areas, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer near polling stations.

Navalny's movement and the non-governmental election monitor Golos reported ballot stuffing, repeat voting and Putin supporters being bussed into polling stations en masse.

European observers said that while the poll had been conducted efficiently, there was a lack of genuine choice.

Ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky took 5.66 per cent, former reality TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak was on 1.67 per cent, while veteran liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky received just over 1 per cent of the vote.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas earlier said Russian Federation would remain a "difficult partner".

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