Putin eyes 4th term as Russians go to polls

Putin wins Fourth Term Presidency with Wide Margin- BellaNaija

Putin eyes 4th term as Russians go to polls

The absolute certainty of Putin's election victory means that apathy, rather than one of his seven nominal rival candidates, had been the president's biggest concern.

Russia's Central Election Commission says the turnout has exceeded 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin is in the second place with 11.87 per cent of the vote, followed by head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.73 per cent, Civil Initiative party candidate Ksenia Sobchak with 1.64 per, according to the CEC.

After 18 years in power, Putin will start a new six-year term and retain his grip on Russian Federation until 2024.

"Our thoughts will turn to the future of our great country and the future of our children", said the man who is already Russia's longest-serving leader since Stalin.

"Let's count. What, do you think I will sit (in power) until I'm 100 years old", he said, calling the question "funny".

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His opponents have called the election a farce, but his millions of fans hail the 65-year-old former KGB officer for restoring Russian greatness and defending their proud nation from a hostile outside world.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Putin gave his most detailed public comments on the case, saying, "It's complete nonsense to imagine that anyone in Russian Federation could resort to such tricks ahead of the presidential elections and World Cup".

He announced weeks before the election that Russian Federation has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.

After voting, Mr. Kiva donned an orange clown suit and a bright green wig, and spent the day dancing outside a polling station in Moscow's working class Textilshiki neighbourhood, as music blared and vendors tempted voters with cheap groceries. Anticipating a speech by their re-elected President, crowds of flag-waving supporters began to gather Sunday evening even as voting continued in Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad region.

As of 1500 GMT, the voter turnout stood at 59.93 per cent, slightly up from 58.3 percent in 2012, Xinhua quoted the CEC as saying.

Western sanctions on Russia imposed over Crimea and Moscow's backing of a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine remain in place and have damaged the Russian economy, which only rebounded previous year after a prolonged downturn.

Russian President predicted to be elected on his fourth term
Kiev has said Russians living in Ukraine would not be able to vote as access to Moscow's diplomatic missions would be blocked. "I voted for our liberator, Putin", said Alexander Kiryukhin, a 79-year-old in the city of Simferopol, Crimea.

Election authorities said turnout nationwide Sunday was 34.7 percent at noon Moscow time.

At home, Putin must face 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 far removed from the cosmopolitan glitter of Moscow. There was a holiday-like atmosphere at polling stations, where voters were offered the chance to win iPhones for the best ballot box selfies, and given the chance to purchase discount food.

Most people who spoke to AFP on Sunday said they voted for Putin, praising him for restoring stability and national pride after the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union. Independent observers and journalists reported multiple irregularities at the polls, including stuffing ballots, and physically blocking people from casting their votes. In 2008 he was replaced by Dmitry Medvedev, who named him prime minister, and then Putin was again elected president in 2012. The voters were taking pictures of the pocket calendars or leaflets that poll workers distributed, seemingly as proof of voting, he said.

Authorities also appealed to patriotic feelings by holding the vote on the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

In response, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats, prompting a tit-for-tat move by Moscow.

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