Vladimir Putin's Victory Boosted By Western Ostracism

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Vladimir Putin's Victory Boosted By Western Ostracism

It was always known Mr Putin would become Russia's President for a fourth (and last?) term, till 2024.

"Where the legal framework restricts many fundamental freedoms and the outcome is not in doubt, elections nearly lose their goal", said Michael Georg Link, director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights who led OSCE observers. The Kremlin is now responding back to these allegations with its own.

"Some people who earlier believed Navalny was an agent of the United States and so on are now starting to see him as a some kind of alternative to Putin", said Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst.

Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak smiles as she speaks to the media after voting during the Russian presidential election in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2018.

In an effort to boost voter turnout, a variety of enticements were offered at some polling stations, including prizes for those who wore the best costumes, cancer screening and discounted food items. Volunteers from Golos - a word that translates to both "vote" and "voice" - say when entering or leaving Russian Federation, they are often stopped by border staff who accuse them of having terrorist links, according to Reuters.

The Central Election Commission said Monday that communist Pavel Grudinin came a distant second with 11.9 percent support.

Third was ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.66 percent.

The poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain along with fresh sanctions from Washington over allegations of meddling in the U.S. 2016 election have isolated Moscow to an extent not seen since the Cold War.

The accusations ultimately bolstered Mr Putin among a populace that sees him as their defender against a hostile outside world and the embodiment of Russia's resurgent power on the world stage.

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His lawyer Ivan Zhdanov said the actual national turnout at 1700 GMT, when polls closed in Moscow, was 55 per cent, according to data collected by monitors.

Although Navalny was polling at just 2 percent before he was barred from standing at the presidential election, his supporters say he could have capitalized on growing discontent over rising poverty and high-level corruption had he been permitted on the ballot.

The regional election commission said the results from the voting station in Lyubertsy would be invalidated. In the previous presidential election in 2012 Putin polled 63.6 percent of the vote. He recently announced that Russian Federation has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.

The BBC describes Western reactions to Putin's re-election as "muted", in part because of the Skripal poisoning and Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Missiles are most certainly not the main means of the new East-West confrontation, and Putin has experimented recklessly with a variety of "hybrid" means, only to find them backfiring with far-from-perfect timing.

In response, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats, prompting a tit-for-tat move by Moscow. He said it's unacceptable that the election was also conducted in annexed Crimea.

The election was such a foregone conclusion that Mr Putin gave only a perfunctory victory speech and said nothing about what he will do for his country.

But Putin, 65, used a Kremlin meeting with the candidates he soundly defeated in Sunday's election to signal his desire to focus on domestic, not worldwide, matters, and to try to raise living standards by investing more in education, infrastructure and health while reducing defence spending.

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