3:24 am - Friday September 30, 2016

Russia election: Vladimir Putin celebrates victory

Vladimir Putin: "We have won! Glory to Russia!"

Vladimir Putin: "We have won! Glory to Russia!"

Vladimir Putin and his supporters are celebrating victory in Russian elections, that will give him a third presidential term after spending the last four years as the country’s PM.

With nearly all the ballots counted, he secured nearly 64% of the vote, election officials say.

Mr Putin told supporters in Moscow he had won in an open and honest battle.

But opposition groups claim widespread fraud, and plan a protest rally in Moscow later on Monday.

The independent election watchdog Golos says Mr Putin won just over 50% – far less than the official figure given by the election commission.

It says it received numerous reports of “carousel” voting – in which voters cast multiple ballots.

‘Believe in Putin’
Tens of thousands of supporters of Mr Putin – with Russian flags and banners – took part in a concert outside the Kremlin to celebrate his victory late on Sunday.

Making a brief appearance with current President Dmitry Medvedev, Mr Putin thanked his supporters from “every corner” of the country.

“I promised you we would win, and we won,” he said, his eyes watering. “Glory to Russia!”

“We have won in an open and honest battle.

“We proved that no one can force anything on us.”

Slogans on the banner included “Putin – our president” and “We believe in Putin”, but there were indications that some participants had been ordered to attend.

Mr Putin, who supported Mr Medvedev in the Kremlin race in 2008 and became prime minister because of a constitutional ban on a third consecutive term as president, will now be in office until 2018. He could then run for another six-year term.

There was tight security around the capital, with 6,000 extra police brought in from outside.

‘Grandiose scale of falsifications’
The electoral commission said that with 98% of the votes counted, Mr Putin won 64%, enough to give him a first-round victory over nearest rival Gennady Zyuganov, who polled about 17%

The other three candidates were in single digits.

The turnout was about 63%.

In a news conference after the polls closed, Mr Zyuganov described the elections as “unfair and unworthy”.

But he said that with increasing public anger, Mr Putin “would not be able to rule like he used to”.

“These elections cannot be considered legitimate in any way,” said Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the leaders of the street protest movement, which was not represented in the election.

Meanwhile Mr Putin’s campaign chief Stanislav Govorukhin described the poll as “the cleanest in Russian history”.

The election was held against a backdrop of popular discontent, sparked by allegations of widespread fraud during December’s parliamentary elections in favour of Mr Putin’s United Russia party.

The alleged fraud came despite the presence of thousands of independent observers and web cameras at polling stations.

Opposition blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny told the BBC: “Grandiose scale of falsifications, especially in Moscow… mass use of carousel voting.”

Source: BBC



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