Just In: With all major opponents dead, in prison, exiled, 71 year old Putin wins fifth term in office
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Just In: With all major opponents dead, in prison, exiled, 71 year old Putin wins fifth term in office

March 17, 2024

Just In: With all major opponents dead, in prison, exiled, 71 year old Putin wins fifth term in office

Admin By Adewale Adewale
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Vladimir Putin has secured another six-year term as Russian president, paving the way for the hardline former spy to become the longest-serving Russian leader in more than 200 years.

Victory for the 71-year-old was never in doubt, with all his major opponents dead, in prison or exiled, and authorities waging an unrelenting crackdown on those who publicly oppose the Kremlin or its military offensive on Ukraine.

47 year old Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny, who was Putin’s most prominent rival, died in an Arctic prison in February.

The government-run VTsIOM pollster projected that Putin had sailed to an easy victory with 87 percent of the vote after polls closed in Russia’s western-most region of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.

The three-day election was marked by a surge in deadly Ukrainian bombardments, incursions into Russian territory by pro-Kyiv sabotage groups and vandalism at polling stations.

The Kremlin had cast the election as moment for Russians to throw their weight behind the full-scale military operation in Ukraine, where voting is also being staged in Russian-controlled territories.

Kyiv and its allies slammed the vote as a sham and President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at Putin as a “dictator” who was “drunk from power”.

“There is no evil he will not commit to prolong his personal power,” Zelensky said in a message on social media.

Ukrainian ally Poland said the vote was not “legal, free and fair,” in a statement issued by the foreign ministry.

Britain’s Foreign Minister, David Cameron, dismissed early results indicating Putin's comfortable re-election.

“The polls have closed in Russia, following the illegal holding of elections on Ukrainian territory, a lack of choice for voters and no independent OSCE monitoring,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“This is not what free and fair elections look like,” he said.

EU chief Charles Michel had sarcastically congratulated Putin on his “landslide victory” on the first day of polls opening on Friday.

Allies of the late Navalny had urged voters to flood polling stations at noon and spoil their ballots for a “Noon Against Putin” protest.

His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was greeted by supporters with flowers and applause in Berlin.

She said she had written her late husband’s name on her ballot after voting at the Russian embassy.

Some voters in Moscow appeared to heed Navalny’s call, telling AFP they had come to honour his memory and show their opposition in the only legal way possible.

“I came to show that there are many of us, that we exist, that we are not some insignificant minority,” said 19-year-old student Artem Minasyan at a polling station in central Moscow.

Leonid Volkov, a senior aide to the late opposition leader who was recently attacked in Lithuania where he fled political persecution in Russia, dismissed the results published by Moscow.

“The percentages drawn for Putin have, of course, not the slightest relation to reality,” Volkov, Navalny’s former chief of staff wrote on social media.

Former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev meanwhile congratulated Putin on his “splendid victory” long before the final results were due to be announced.

And state-run television praised how Russians and rallied with “colossal support for the president” as well as the “unbelievable consolidation” of the country behind its leader.

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