White House won't say if Putin is a friend or a foe
19 March, 2018, 16:10
Election monitors were reporting irregularities at voting stations across Russian Federation, even though election authorities were under orders to ensure that the voting was free and fair after violations marred Putin's last election in 2012.
With nearly all of the votes counted in Russia's presidential election, the state-run Russia Public Opinion Research Center published an exit poll that showed Vladimir Putin with 76.6% of the vote.
Most people who spoke to AFP on Sunday said they voted for Putin, praising him for restoring stability and national pride after the humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union.
His only real challenge was to run up the tally so high that he could claim an indisputable mandate.
Casting his ballot in Moscow, Putin seemed confident of victory, saying he would consider any percentage of votes a success.
Another term will take him to almost a quarter century in power - a longevity among Kremlin leaders second only to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
He strongly denied Russian responsibility in the March 4 attack.
"Currently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the best level in history, which sets an example for building a new type of worldwide relations", Xi said in a congratulatory message to Putin, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Then he left the stage after speaking for less than two minutes, a seemingly perfunctory appearance that encapsulated the election's predictability.
Over recent years, the Russian people have united as one in firmly advancing on the path of strengthening the nation, realizing rejuvenation and development, achieving remarkable success in economic and social development, and playing an important constructive role in global affairs, Chinese new agency quoted him as saying.
There were widespread reports of forced voting Sunday, efforts to make Russian Federation appear to be a robust democracy. "They told us at work" to go vote, one of them said. Polls show that most Russians continue to see the takeover of that Black Sea peninsula as a major achievement despite subsequent Western sanctions.
"People were coming in all at once, (they) were entering in groups as if a tram has arrived at a stop", said one of the observers, Sergei Krivonogov. He said his bosses haven't asked for proof of voting but he fears they will.
Other examples from observers and social media included ballot boxes being stuffed with extra ballots in multiple regions; an election official assaulting an observer; CCTV cameras obscured by flags or nets from watching ballot boxes; discrepancies in ballot numbers; last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout; and a huge pro-Putin sign in one polling station.
The commission said it is quickly responding to claims of violations in the vote.
She said officials quickly sealed a ballot box in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don where ballot stuffing was reported.
In Artyom, a man tossed several ballots into the box, according to Tatiana Gladkhikh, the head of the regional election commission.
The Foreign Secretary dismissed Russian suggestions that the nerve agent could have come from a British military facility located 8 miles from the Wiltshire town as "satirical", as he warned the United Kingdom was "in the Kremlin's crosshairs".
The election was held as Russian Federation faces increasing isolation on the world stage over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of USA sanctions just as it gears up for the football World Cup in the summer.
In his first public comments on the poisoning, Putin on Sunday referred to the allegations against Russian Federation as "nonsense". And the Kremlin remains at odds with Washington after the United States hit Russian Federation with new sanctions over its meddling in the 2016 presidential election. "If it had not been for our observers, the turnout for Putin would have been 80%, and that would have given an opportunity to state that the 'whole Russian Federation stands for Putin'".
But even with those inconsistencies, the vote is likely to further cement President Putin's power at home and allow him to keep projecting it overseas.
Yevgeny, a 43-year-old mechanic voting in central Moscow, said he briefly wondered whether it was worth voting. "I don't want elections without a choice".
In Moscow, first-time voters were being given free tickets for pop concerts, and health authorities were offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations.
Voters appeared to be turning in out in larger numbers Sunday than in the last presidential election in 2012, when Putin faced a serious opposition movement and there were instances of multiple voting, ballot stuffing and coercion. He urged a boycott of the vote and vowed to continue defying the Kremlin with street protests. "Who else?" said Putin supporter Andrei Borisov, 70, a retired engineer in Moscow.
Officers say the boy grabbed a.25 calibre handgun at about 1pm on Saturday when his sister would not give up the controller . The pre-teen was rushed to Le Bonheur's Children's Hospital in Memphis and her condition is not known at this time.
RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh slammed Narendra Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for Jagannath Mishra's acquittal. The court pronounced its judgment in the presence of the RJD supremo but the quantum of punishment has not yet been announced.
The capture of Afrin would be a major victory in Turkey's campaign against the YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist group. He added that large numbers of people have now been squeezed into the small areas held by rebels in eastern Ghouta.
What Truex had, however, was a faster race vehicle and with 32 laps to go, Busch wobbled, Truex shot past and into the lead. He also accomplished the feat at Las Vegas and Chicagoland during his championship 2017 season.
We have notified our customers that their pets arrived safely and are on their way to be reunited with their owners. During that year, 138,178 animals flew with United, with an incident rate of 2.24 per 10,000 animals.
They had also hinted that a similar course may be adopted in the defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley . Almost 20 defamation cases have been filed against Kejriwal in various courts by several distinguished politicians.
Her students come from some of the poorest families in Britain with parents who don't necessarily speak English. She was "overwhelmed" to win the prize, presented by Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton in Dubai.
Blair warned that a student eating lunch alone, or one who is constantly disrupting class "could likely be our next shooter". For better or worse, Perri said, he was struck by how quickly the student protests have gained momentum.
The French minister welcomed the latest peaceful mood and reaffirmed Paris' unwavering support for Seoul's North Korea policy. Kang said a channel of communication has been established, adding, "I'm sure there are back and forth messages".
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A single escape route remains open to the south to territory still held by the YPG or controlled by the Damascus government. The country considers the YPG a terror group and a wing of a Kurdish insurgency operating within its own border.
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