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Putin seen winning landslide 88 percent of Russian presidential election vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking on a visit to his campaign headquarters after a presidential election in Moscow, Russia, early Monday, March 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russia’s  presidential election on Sunday, cementing his already tight  grip on power in  a victory he said showed Moscow had been right to stand up to the West  and  send  its  troops  into Ukraine. Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel who first rose to power in 1999, made it clear that the result  should  send a  message to the West that its leaders will have to  reckon  with  an  emboldened Russia, whether in war or in peace, for many more years to come. The outcome means Putin, 71, is set to embark on a new six-year term  that  will  see  him  overtake Josef Stalin and become Russia’s longest-serving  leader  for  more than 200 years if he completes it. Putin won 87.8 percent of the vote,  the  highest  ever  result  in Russia’s  post-Soviet history,  according to an exit poll by pollster the  Public  Opinion  Foundation (FOM). The Russian Public Opin ion  Research  Centre  (VCIOM) put Putin on 87 percent. First official  results  indicated the  polls were accurate. The United States, Germany,  the  United  Kingdom and  other  nations  have  said  the vote was neither free nor fair due to the imprisonment  of  political opponents and censorship. Communist candidate Nikolai Kharitonov finished second with just  under  4  percent,  newcomer Vladislav Davankov third, and ultra-nationalist  Leonid  Slutsky fourth, partial results suggested. Putin told supporters in a victory  speech in  Moscow that  he would  prioritise  resolving  tasks associated  with  what  he  called Russia’s “special military operation”  in  Ukraine  and  would strengthen the Russian military. “We have many tasks ahead. But when we are consolidated  – no  matter  who  wants to  intimidate us, suppress us – nobody has ever  succeeded  in  history,  they have not succeeded now, and they will  not  succeed  ever in the  future,” said Putin. Supporters  chanted  “Putin, Putin, Putin”  when  he  appeared on  stage  and  “Russia,  Russia, Russia” after he had delivered his acceptance speech. Inspired by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in an Arctic  prison  last  month,  thousands  of  opponents  protested  at noon against Putin at polling stations inside Russia and abroad. Putin told reporters he regarded Russia’s election as democratic and said the Navalny-inspired protest  against  him  had  had  no effect on the election’s outcome. In  his first  comments on  his death, he also said that Navalny’s passing  had  been  a  “sad  event” and confirmed that  he  had  been ready to  do  a  prisoner  swap involving the opposition politician. english.alarabiya

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.