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Russian presidential election: Voting begins as Putin eyes yet another term

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 18 March 2018, 11:12 IST

The polling began at 8 a.m. (Russian time) for the presidential elections and more than least 111 million Russian citizens are expected to cast votes to choose the president for the next six years. Voting has started in Far Eastern regions in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term.

Vladimir Putin rivals include a millionaire communist, Pavel Grudinin, a former reality television host, Ksenia Sobchak and the veteran nationalist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Putin has been a dominant leader since 2000 and he is again ready to extend his term Kremlin stint to 2024 with a fourth term in office.

Putin used the election run-up to emphasise Russia’s role as a major world power and recently he extended support to the Syrian regime in a bloody civil war.  

Rising tensions with the West over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain, and new sanctions from Washington over alleged election meddling. 

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Today also marks exactly four years since Putin signed a treaty declaring Crimea part of Russia following its annexation from Ukraine, an action that led to the war in the east of the former Soviet state.

Putin, runs under the slogan “a strong president -- a strong Russia”. He also has declined to take part in televised debates and shot no new material for his own campaign advertisements.

Putin's most strong opposition figure in Russia, the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, has been prohibited from standing, because of a fraud conviction that he said was politically motivated.

One of the most enthralling moments from the campaign was during a debate when Ksenia Sobchak threw a glass of water over Vladimir Zhirinovsky, prompting him to call her a “prostitute” and a “mad fool”.

Early voting has already taken place in some remote areas, where local election commissions bring ballot boxes by helicopter and snowmobile. The Russian Central Election Commission is monitoring the number of voters carefully in order to cleanse the voter lists of phantom voters and repeated mentioning of voters.

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First published: 18 March 2018, 11:12 IST