Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Krasnodar Region Governor Veniamin Kondratyev in Krasnodar, Russia March 7, 2024. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS
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Another six-year term for Putin as he tops Russian presidential polls, emerging longest serving president in 200 years

On Monday, Red Square will host a concert to commemorate ten years since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. It is anticipated that this event will also function as Putin's victory celebration.

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Exit polls on Sunday indicated that Vladimir Putin had won a second six-year term as President of Russia, making the tough former spy the country’s longest-serving head of state in almost 200 years.

With all of his main rivals either dead, imprisoned, or exiled and the government pursuing an unremitting crackdown on anybody who openly opposed the Kremlin or its military assault on Ukraine, the 71-year-old’s victory was always certain.

With 87 percent of the vote, the government-run VTsIOM pollster predicted that Putin had easily won the election in Kaliningrad, Russia’s most western province on the Baltic Sea.

A spike in lethal Ukrainian bombardments, pro-Kyiv sabotage groups’ intrusions into Russian territory, and vandalism at polling places were among the events that characterized the three-day election.

With polling taking place in areas under Russian control, the Kremlin had framed the election as an opportunity for Russians to support the country’s full-scale military intervention in Ukraine.

Kyiv and its allies denounced the referendum as a farce, and President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Putin of being a “dictator” that was “drunk on power.

In a social media post, Zelensky stated, “He will do any evil to maintain his personal power.”

 

Vote by opposition dismissed

Poland, an ally of Ukraine, claimed in a statement from the foreign ministry that the vote was not “legal, free, and fair.”

On the first day of polling on Friday, EU chief Charles Michel mockingly congratulated Putin on his “landslide victory.”

In an effort to stage a “Noon Against Putin” demonstration, supporters of the late Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most well-known opponent, who passed away in an Arctic prison last month, had asked voters to swarm voting places at noon and destroy their ballots.

In Berlin, admirers showered his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, with bouquets and cheers. She claimed that after casting her ballot at the Russian embassy, she had scribbled the name of her late husband on it.

Some Moscow voters seemed to take Navalny’s appeal to heart, telling the AFP they had come to pay tribute to his legacy and voice their disapproval in the only way permitted by law.

The results released by Moscow were rejected by Leonid Volkov, a key aide to the late opposition leader, who was recently attacked in Lithuania while fleeing political persecution in Russia.

The previous chief of staff of Navalny, Volkov, stated on social media that “the percentages drawn for Putin have, of course, not the slightest relation to reality.”

Long before the official results were scheduled to be revealed, former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Putin on his “splendid victory.”

Additionally, state-run media celebrated the “unbelievable consolidation” of the nation around its leader and the way Russians came together to show “colossal support for the president.”

 

A difficult period, but “united and self-confident.”

Putin, a former KGB operative, has ruled the nation since the final day of 1999 and is expected to stay in that position until at least 2030.

Should he serve out another term in the Kremlin, he will have been the longest-serving Russian leader since Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century.

Putin remarked that Russia was going through a “difficult period” in a pre-election speech and urged the nation to remain “united and self-confident.”

On Monday, Red Square will host a concert to commemorate ten years since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. It is anticipated that this event will also function as Putin’s victory celebration.

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