Published: Tue, March 20, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Russian presidential election sees 51.9% turnout

Russian presidential election sees 51.9% turnout

Many Russians say they would vote for Putin simply because they do not see an alternative, given his chokehold on domestic politics.

Russian officials have accused the United Kingdom and its allies of "Russophobia" and suggested such bigotry helped increase turn-out in Sunday's elections. Some Russians have reported being pressured by employers to show up and vote.

However, Russians living in Ukraine will not be allowed to participate, after the Ukrainian government barred them from visiting Moscow's diplomatic delegations because it considers Russia to be an "aggressor" and has dismissed its elections as "illegal".

Independent election observers and activists have alleged numerous incidents of ballot stuffing and other irregularities in Sunday's vote. "This use of chemical weapons is a clear violation of the worldwide law", he said.

Pamfilova's deputy, Nikolai Bulayev, said "we are not hiding. even the smallest violations".

She said officials quickly sealed a ballot box in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don where ballot stuffing was reported.

The monitoring group posted on its website several videos of apparent ballot stuffing.

The Central Election Commission allocated more than $13 million to publicize the election.

The incumbent Russian president has cast his ballot in the presidential elections, in which he is widely expected to win a fourth term.

Yekaterina said she isn't sure what she'll do with her ballot, musing that "maybe I'll just write 'Putin is a moron.'" But she clearly understands that not showing up at the polling place Sunday will not only endanger her job but will reflect badly on her boss, whom she likes. She said those already alleging the election was rigged were biased and peddling "Russophobia", echoing a line used by the Kremlin to describe Western criticism of Russian Federation.

Members of a local election commission in St. Petersburg empty a ballot box as they start counting votes during Russia's presidential election on Sunday.

Putin has been in power as president or prime minister for almost two decades.

In his next six years, Putin is likely to assert Russia's power overseas even more strongly.

In Saint Petersburg, the former imperial capital, Antonina Kurchatova also said she voted for Putin but was just hoping things in Russian Federation would not get worse. She is the only candidate who has openly criticised Mr Putin in the campaign.

"These are elections of the supreme ruler not only of Russian Federation, but of the entire Planet Earth", he said after having cast his vote in Moscow.

"Judging by the current state of public opinion, future changes are likely to include stricter political control, further nationalization of private property, further shutting down the economic space, and new processes that make economic transactions in the country less sophisticated and more inefficient", he said. Such attacks are very common.

At home, he will be faced with how to groom a successor or devise a strategy to circumvent term limits, how to drive diversification in an economy still highly dependent on oil and gas and how to improve medical care and social services in regions of the sprawling country far removed from the modern glitter of Moscow.

Since first being elected president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on the world's biggest country, muzzling opposition, putting television under state control and reasserting Moscow's standing overseas.

The voting procedure will be monitored by about 1,500 worldwide observers from 109 countries.

This became particularly important after the main opposition leader Alexei Navalny urged supporters to boycott the polls.

He told her a YouTube broadcast that she was a "parody of a liberal candidate" and her involvement in the campaign helped the Kremlin cast the opposition in a negative light, and rejected her proposal to join forces.

Putin is standing against a motley crew of seven challengers, including millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin and former reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak, but none are polling more than eight percent.

She was widely criticised, including by Navalny, as a "Kremlin project" created to fragment liberal supporters.

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