Moscow, March 19: 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. Almost 55.5 million voters supported his candidacy in the election that took place on Sunday paving the way for Putin, 65, to lead the country until 2024 after which he is constitutiolly obliged to stand down, Sputnik news agency reported. The turnout at the election was 67.47 per cent, the CEC reported. The main opposition leader, Alexei valny, was barred from the race because of an embezzlement conviction that he said was manufactured by the Kremlin.
Putin re-elected Russia's President for another 6 years
Addressing a rally in Moscow, Putin said the voters had “recognised the achievements of the last few years”. Speaking to reporters after the results were announced, he laughed off a question about running again in another six years. “What you are saying is a bit funny. Do you think that I will stay here until I’m 100 years old? No!” he said.
World leaders congratulated Putin on his re-election but no Western leaders responded to his victory due to deepening tensions with Moscow in recent weeks after the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain, which the UK government blamed on Russia, the BBC reported. Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country’s partnership with Russia was at its “best level in history”. The leaders of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba were among those who also sent their best wishes.
However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas questioned the fairness of the election and said Russia would remain a “difficult partner”, but added: “We want to remain in dialogue.” The previous election record was set by Dmitry Medvedev in 2008, who won 52.5 million votes with just under 70 per cent turnout.
Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin was in the second place with 11.87 per cent of the vote, followed by the head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.73 per cent and Civil Initiative party candidate Ksenia Sobchak with 1.64 per cent, according to the CEC. Putin’s campaign team said it was an “incredible victory”. “The percentage that we have just seen speaks for itself. It’s a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make,” a spokesman told Russia’s Interfax. (IANS)