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Vladimir Putin easily wins fourth term, exit poll suggests

Vladimir Putin easily wins fourth term, exit poll suggests

President Vladimir Putin was leading in the Russian presidential election with 76.65 per cent of the votes after 99 per cent of the ballots were counted, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said on Monday.

Mr. Putin's expected re-election means a continuation of the multi-faceted conflict between Russian Federation and the West, with an information war raging alongside real fights in Ukraine and Syria, and both sides seeking to damage the other's economy via sanctions.

Authorities struggled against voter apathy, putting many of Russia's almost 111 million voters under intense pressure to cast ballots.

Exit polls are not final, and official results will be released in coming hours.

Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said "we are immediately reacting to all claims no matter where they come from".

Navalny's opposition movement and the non-governmental election monitor Golos reported ballot stuffing, repeat voting and Putin supporters being bused into polling stations en masse. Russian lawmakers have claimed that the incident is "provocation" meant to vilify their country during the election. "They asked me why we were filming and they destroyed all the videos of the violations that we had taken, but some of them are already online", Omarov said, displaying bruises and ripped trousers from the incident.

She said officials quickly sealed a ballot box in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don where ballot stuffing was reported.

Russian election officials moved quickly Sunday to respond to some of the violations.

With Mr. Putin's most prominent opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny, barred from competing in the race, none of the other candidates - including a former collective farm boss, an ultranationalist provocateur and a former reality show host - was expected to pass the 10 per cent threshold.

Navalny said in a video posted on YouTube that "on election day, one should usually want to say 'I voted, ' but in fact I'm here to say that I didn't go to vote".

Other agencies have projected Putin with 74% of the vote.

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Vladimir Putin cruised to a landslide victory in Russia's presidential vote, extending his 18-year rule amid escalating confrontation with the West.

Many analysts say Putin leaving power in six years is unlikely.

Mr Putin looked relaxed on Sunday morning as he arrived at a polling station at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, where he has voted at the trio of elections he won in 2000, 2004 and 2012. He clashed publicly with Sobchak on Sunday night, accusing her of being a Kremlin stooge.

Who is Putin up against?

Russia's Central Election Commission says the turnout has exceeded 50 per cent. Such attacks are very common. Voters in the Black Sea peninsula, which Putin visited on Wednesday, received medals on Sunday embossed with the words: "With Russia forever".

On the worldwide stage, he has outlasted three USA presidents to become one of the globe's undisputed strongmen, thrusting Moscow into a new rivalry with the West by snatching Crimea from Ukraine and launching a pivotal intervention in Syria.

Mr. 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.

Putin was then accused of spreading his tentacles much further and Moscow's old foe - the United States - found itself in the crosshairs.

"I don't believe I'm going to influence anything", he told CNN.

In the message, Xi said that over recent years, the Russian people have united as one in firmly advancing on the path of strengthening the nation, realising rejuvenation and development, achieving remarkable success in economic and social development, and playing an important constructive role in worldwide affairs.

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