Putin 'Wins' Election Landslide as NGOs Report Thousands of Cases of Fraud

Putin 'Wins' Election Landslide as NGOs Report Thousands of Cases of Fraud

Russian President Vladimir Putin received another six-year mandate after a resounding election win.

"While the incumbent president did not participate in debates or campaigning, extensive and unchallenging news coverage of his official activities continued to provide him with dominant presence in the media", Marietta Tidei of the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly said at a news conference announcing the mission's preliminary conclusions.

Putin's previous Kremlin term was marked by a crackdown on the opposition after huge protests, the Ukraine conflict, military intervention in Syria and the introduction of Western sanctions that contributed to a fall in living standards.

Asked about the music, activities and discount food sales organised in polling stations, the commission head said this was normal, as an election is supposed to be a "celebration" and there was a tender for companies that wanted to sell at polling stations.

"We know there has been pressure on people to vote, but proving this is very hard", said Grigory Melkonyants, co-chairman of Golos.

Putin could take a page out of Chinese President Xi Jinping's book and abolish his own term limits, but so far he's been publicly reluctant to consider that.

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Steinmeier says he hopes "we'll be able to counteract the estrangement of our continent and between the people of Russian Federation and Germany, and that you will use your new term in office for this objective". Britain and Russian Federation last week announced expulsions of diplomats over the spy case and the US issued new sanctions. Navalny, who was barred from running in the elections over a criminal conviction, had called for a boycott of the vote in an attempt to reduce the turn-out and thus reduce the legitimacy of Putin's expected victory.

The CEC said earlier on Monday it had not registered any serious complaints of violations.

Opposition and independent monitors reported cases of alleged fraud such as ballot stuffing and repeat voting.

A less pressing but arguably more important issue for Putin is figuring out what happens when his term is up. He won 53% of the vote in the 2000 presidential election, 71% in 2004 and 64% in 2012.

Germany's foreign minister is calling on Russian Federation to make more "constructive contributions" to dialogue after President Vladimir Putin won re-election.

However, the European Union said "violations and shortcomings" in the election flouted global standards, pointing to one-sided media coverage and curbs on political freedoms.

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"Thanks to your promotion in person, the Russia-China comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the highest level in history", Putin said, adding that Russia cherishes the friendship with China, and is willing to work with China to make high-level exchange closer and deepen the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

Navalny observed sarcastically that in the mainly Muslim region of Chechnya, turnout was 37 per cent in polling stations attended by his observers and 99 per cent elsewhere.

The growing talk of a Putin lifetime presidency is being accompanied by increasingly dire rhetoric about Russia's confrontation with the West. Putin's allies are presenting his victory - which was accompanied by footage of ballot-stuffing and many reports of people ordered to vote by their employers - as a response to Western aggression.

The final results released on Monday showed the Russian president had won a fourth term in office with a record voter support of 77 per cent.

Several critics have also shamed the election as a con and stated that the Kremlin had even banned Putin's leading opponent, Alexei Navalny, from the ballot. TV host Ksenia Sobchak, arguably the most Western-friendly of the candidates, scored less than 2 percent of the vote. On Sunday, Putin said that Russian Federation destroyed all its chemical weapons under the supervision of the worldwide observers.

Opposition groups plan a rally Monday in Moscow.

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