Russian Federation election: Muted Western reaction to Putin victory
Russian Federation election: Muted Western reaction to Putin victory
The missile was previously tested in December last year with footage of the launch system shown during Putin's state of the nation address
20 March, 2018, 09:21
Brussels, Mar 19 Russian Federation will remain a "difficult partner" after President Vladimir Putin's re-election but will be needed to help resolve worldwide tensions, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said today, questioning the vote's fairness.
Russians headed to the polls Sunday, March 18 in elections set to hand President Vladimir Putin a historic 4th Kremlin term, as the country faces increasing isolation over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of United States sanctions.
Before leaving the stage to applause, he led the crowd in a chant of "Russia, Russia!"
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's observer mission noted that Sunday's vote in which Russian President Vladimir Putin won in a landslide "took place in an overly controlled legal and political environment marked by continued pressure on critical voices".
Yevgeny Roizman, the mayor of Yekaterinburg, said on his video blog that local officials and state employees all received orders "from higher up" to make sure the presidential vote turnout was over 60 per cent.
Maas added that "we want to remain in dialogue but we expect constructive contributions from Russian Federation, and more than was the case in the recent past".
Some 145,000 observers were monitoring the presidential vote Sunday, including 1500 foreigners, and they and ordinary Russians reported hundreds of problems.
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, strengthen the impression of a Russian Federation at loggerheads with the rest of the world.
The first politician in years to challenge the Kremlin's grip on power, Alexei Navalny, is barred from the race because of a corruption conviction he says was fabricated.
Observers and individual voters reported widespread violations including ballot-box stuffing and forced voting Sunday, the AP said.
Election officials moved quickly to respond to some of the violations.
Analysts said Putin used tensions with the West to rally support and suggested that armed with a strong new mandate, he could push through further punitive measures against dissenters.
Reuters reporters witnessed multiple people in different locations voting in groups, and then taking photos of themselves in front of the ballot boxes on their phones.
Sunday also marks exactly 4 years since Putin signed a treaty declaring Crimea part of Russian Federation following its annexation from Ukraine, an action that led to the war in the east of the former Soviet state.
The electoral commission said official turnout was 67 percent.
Navalny has called for boycotting the vote.
"Tell yourself: I don't want to be a part of this, " Navalny urged his 2 million Twitter followers ahead of the vote.
"I think that in the United States and Britain they've understood they can not influence our elections", Igor Morozov, a member of the upper house of parliament, said on state television.
Ukrainian leaders are also angry over Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014.
Western sanctions on Russia imposed over Crimea and Moscow's backing of a pro-Russian separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine remain in place and have damaged the Russian economy, which only rebounded a year ago after a prolonged downturn.
"Who am I voting for? Who else?" asked Putin supporter Andrei Borisov, 70, a retired engineer in Moscow. "The others, it's a circus".
The Central Elections Commission said Mr Putin had won about 73% of the vote, based on a count of 30% of the country's precincts.
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