'We want constructive dialogue': Putin to reduce defence spending in fourth term

20 March, 2018, 04:49 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Russian TV host and presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak speaks during an interview with the Associ

Vladimir Putin has won a fourth term as Russia's president, adding six years in the Kremlin for the man who has led the world's largest country for all of the 21st century.

President Vladimir Putin says that Russian Federation will seek constructive ties with other countries and will not engage in an arms race.

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. That paved the way for another 12 years of Putin after he returned to the presidency in 2012.

Russian election observers denounced what they said were large-scale violations in the presidential vote that handed Vladimir Putin a crushing victory, including ballot-stuffing that was captured on state-controlled cameras.

Putin's previous Kremlin term was marked by a crackdown on the opposition after huge protests, the Ukraine conflict, military intervention in Syria and the introduction of Western sanctions that contributed to a fall in living standards.

Iranian president Hasan Rouhani also congratulated Putin on his "decisive victory" and vowed to further boost ties between Tehran and Moscow.

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The Russian strongman ran against seven candidates, but his most vocal opponent Alexei Navalny was barred from the ballot for legal reasons and the final outcome was never in doubt.

Ahead of the vote, a new crisis broke out with the West as Britain implicated Putin in the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal with a Soviet-designed nerve agent.

Casting his ballot in Moscow, Putin said he would be pleased with any result giving him the right to continue as president. In its election coverage, The Guardian mentions ballot stuffing, attacks on vote observers, and ballots cast in the name of people who are already deceased, the so-called dead souls.

Candidates in Russia's elections. image credits: NY Daily News " I think that in the United States and Britain they've understood they can not influence our elections", said Senator Igor Morozov on state television.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier congratulated Mr Putin in his re-election and said he hoped he would use his new term in office to "counter alienation on our continent and between the peoples of Russian Federation and Germany".

Banned leader of the opposition Alexey Navalny posted an article in which he explained the polls and predictions long showed Mr Putin would win with around 76% of the vote.

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However, the European Union said "violations and shortcomings" in the election flouted global standards, pointing to one-sided media coverage and curbs on political freedoms.

The caustic hip-hop track entitled "Elections" was released via YouTube on March 17, a day before Russians headed to the polls in an election Putin won with an expected, sweeping victory.

Navalny observed sarcastically that in the mainly Muslim region of Chechnya, turnout was 37 per cent in polling stations attended by his observers and 99 per cent elsewhere.

They gathered widespread examples of apparent voting violations in Sunday's vote, but it's unlikely to seriously damage Putin given his widespread support. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got about 6 percent.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Sunday that he doesn't expect Trump to stick with the nuclear deal unless European countries dial up the pressure on Iran.

In addition to blaming each other for sabotaging effective political resistance to Putin, would-be opposition leaders must face the reality of an electorate so heavily controlled by the Kremlin, so paranoid due to Putin's New Cold War rhetoric, and so jaded by corruption that they can not get worked up about the possibility of dramatic change.

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Opposition groups plan a rally Monday in Moscow.

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