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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Putin secures six more years with record win

But the vote was marred with widespread allegations of rigging and voter intimidation

Vladimir Putin will have spent 24 years as Russia's president at the end of his fourth term, beaten only by former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Vladimir Putin will have spent 24 years as Russia's president at the end of his fourth term, beaten only by former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Gareth Browne

Russian President Vladimir Putin has secured a fourth term in power after receiving a record level of the national vote.

Results released on Monday morning showed Mr Putin had won 76.6 per cent of the vote while his closest challenger, the Communist Party’s Pavel Grudinin, came second with 11.8 per cent of the vote.

However numerous videos posted to social media appeared to show vote rigging at polling booths across Russia. In one video, from a polling station in Grozny, Chechnya, a man can be seen stuffing multiple ballots into one of the boxes.

The turnout of around 67 per cent came despite a campaign led by the country’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, to boycott the elections after he was barred from running in December.

Mr Putin’s campaign chairman suggested the high turnout was a result of the recent diplomatic spat with the UK following the poisoning of a former Russian spy with a nerve agent. “Right now the turnout numbers are higher than we expected. We need to thank Great Britain for that because once again they did not consider the Russian mentality."

Mr Putin will now begin his fourth six-year term as president of Russia, at the end of which he will have officially led the country for 24 years, a feat beaten only by former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Speaking outside the Kremlin to celebrate his victory, Mr Putin told crowds: “Everyone who voted today is part of our big, national team.”

Under current Russian law this term must be his last, but speculation has mounted that he may try to find a way to run again. Indeed, when asked by a Russian journalist if he would consider further runs for the presidency, Mr Putin was ambiguous: “What you’re saying is just silly … what, am I going to sit here for 100 years?”