Friday, 19 October, 2018

Putin on track for shoo-in victory

Russia is preparing to carry out tests of the'Satan 2 nuclear missile which can carry 16 warheads and evade all missile defences according to the Kremlin White House won't say if Putin is a friend or a foe
Kenny Thornton | 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.

BJP tears into Rahul Gandhi, dubs his remarks 'rhetoric of a loser'
He said people will accept that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is drunk with power "because they know what it is designed for". He said BJP's dharma was to conquer power while Congress fights for people.

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.

Putin was widely expected to win his fourth term as President, with no meaningful opposition in the running and his fiercest opponent, Alexei Navalny, barred from the race.

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.

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