Russian Federation elections: Vladimir Putin poised for new 6-year term

Russians turn out to cast their votes in the presidential elections

Russians turn out to cast their votes in the presidential elections

Vladimir Putin won another six-year term as Russian president by a huge margin, according to an exit poll after Sunday's election.

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

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

Election authorities said turnout nationwide Sunday was about 52 percent at 5 p.m. Moscow time.

Some examples: ballot boxes being stuffed with extra ballots in multiple regions; an election official assaulting an observer; CCTV cameras obscured by flags or nets from watching ballot boxes; discrepancies in ballot numbers; last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout and a huge pro-Putin board inside one polling station.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a polling station during the presidential election in Moscow Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a polling station during the presidential election in Moscow Russia

She gave her internal Russian passport to a female election official who gushed: 'We are waiting for you, we are waiting for you... and you have not been coming...' criticising her for not voting in earlier municipal elections.

Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said: "We are immediately reacting to all claims, no matter where they come from".

An official win of more than 73% of the vote would be a major boost to Putin, who already enjoys sweeping powers over his country.

In Artyom, a man tossed several ballots into the box, according to Tatiana Gladkhikh, the head of the regional election commission. He'll be judged at the end of his term on whether he's improved living standards, she said. But Putin barely campaigned, opposition activist Alexei Navalny was barred from the ballot, and a landslide victory giving Putin a fourth, six-year presidential term appears certain.

In a short speech to a throng of thousands of supporters near Red Square late Sunday, Putin hailed those who voted for him as a "big national team", adding that "we are bound for success".

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Navalny said in a video posted on YouTube that "on election day, one should usually want to say 'I voted, ' but in fact I'm here to say that I didn't go to vote".

Other examples from observers and social media included ballot boxes being stuffed with extra ballots in multiple regions; an election official assaulting an observer; CCTV cameras obscured by flags or nets from watching ballot boxes; discrepancies in ballot numbers; last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout; and a huge pro-Putin sign in one polling station.

The Kremlin was hoping for high voter numbers to give greater legitimacy to Putin's historic fourth term as Russian Federation faces increasing isolation on the world stage over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of United States sanctions.

Outside the polling station, a 31-year-old who identified herself by her first name and patronymic, Anna Sergeyevna, said she voted for Putin.

Vladimir Putin is widely expected to address his supporters at a massive anniversary rally in Moscow's Red Square, dedicated to Crimea voting to become a part of Russian Federation four years ago. Such attacks are very common.

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Putin, seen casting his vote Sunday, is projected to have won almost 74% of the vote.

Mr Putin hopes for high turnout despite widespread apathy.

Navalny, who is overseeing a campaign for a vote boycott and sent over 33,000 observers across the country with manual counters to see how official turnout figures differ from those of monitors, said there had been "unprecedented violations". Putin urged voters to "use your power to choose the future of our great country" during a televised address before the election.

The Kremlin has constantly denied the Olympic gold medal victor is his secret first lady, but speculation about the former loyalist MP has persisted, including claims they have children together.

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