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Putin Re-Elected For Fifth Term As Russian President With Landslide Victory

Putin hailed Russia's election as democratic despite Navalny-inspired protests, while criticizing US systems. The voting spanned three days across annexed regions and online platforms, marred by vandalism and arrests at polling stations.

Edited By : Aniket Raj | Updated: Mar 18, 2024 08:43 IST
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President Vladimir Putin secured an unprecedented victory in Russia’s recent election, solidifying his firm control over the country. With this win, Putin, aged 71, is poised to begin another six-year term, surpassing Josef Stalin and becoming Russia’s longest-serving leader in over two centuries should he serve the entirety of his term. According to an exit poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), Putin garnered a staggering 87.8% of the vote, marking the highest result in Russia’s post-Soviet era.

Nikolai Kharitonov, representing the Communist Party, secured the second position with just under 4% of the vote, while newcomer Vladislav Davankov came in third and ultra-nationalist Leonid Slutsky finished fourth, as indicated by partial results.

In his victory speech delivered in Moscow, President Putin assured his supporters that he would prioritize addressing the challenges related to what he referred to as Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, and emphasized his commitment to bolstering the Russian military.

“We have numerous tasks ahead. However, when we stand united – regardless of attempts to intimidate or suppress us – history has shown that no one has succeeded, nor will they ever succeed in the future,” Putin stated.

The election coincided with attacks launched from Ukraine targeting locations within Russia using missiles and drones, resulting in casualties.

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In a show of dissent inspired by the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny, thousands of protesters gathered at polling stations both within Russia and abroad to express their opposition to Putin’s regime. Navalny’s recent death in an Arctic prison had galvanized many against the current administration.

Putin affirmed to reporters that Russia’s election was democratic and brushed off the impact of the Navalny-inspired protests on the election’s outcome.

In response to a question from US television network, regarding the democratic nature of his re-election, Putin criticized the political and judicial systems of the United States, describing them as disastrous rather than democratic.

He further questioned the democratic integrity of the United States by pointing out alleged instances of administrative resources being used to target a presidential candidate, implicitly referring to the four criminal cases against Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Voting occurred over three days across polling stations in Russia’s 11 time zones, including in regions of Ukraine that were illegally annexed and through online platforms. While polling closed on Sunday night in Russia, voting continued at select embassies worldwide.

Despite stringent controls, there were reports of several dozen cases of vandalism at polling stations throughout the voting period. Several individuals were arrested, particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, for attempting to ignite fires or detonate explosives at polling stations. Additionally, others were detained for throwing green antiseptic or ink into ballot boxes.

According to the OVD-Info group, which monitors political arrests, 80 people were arrested in 20 cities across Russia on Sunday alone.

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First published on: Mar 18, 2024 08:43 AM IST

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