Russia Election: Putin Secures Fourth Term For Another Six Years

Vladimir Putin campaigns at a concert in Sevastopol Crimea

Vladimir Putin campaigns at a concert in Sevastopol Crimea

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 violations of multiple voting, ballot stuffing and coercion.

Putin is so certain of winning that authorities are investing instead in massive get-out-the-vote efforts to produce a turnout that would embolden the Russian leader both domestically and internationally.

Since he took the helm in Russia on New Year's Eve 1999 after Boris Yeltsin's surprise resignation, Putin's electoral power has centered on stability, a quality cherished by Russians after the chaotic breakup of the Soviet Union and the "wild capitalism" of the Yeltsin years.

"But, if the decision is avoided, then this key, defining choice will be made without your opinion being taken into account", he added.

Putin had faced seven minor candidates on the ballot.

Some 145,000 observers monitored Sunday's vote, including 1,500 foreigners, and they and ordinary Russians reported hundreds of problems. But Putin's popularity remained strong, apparently buttressed by nationalist pride.

A Russian election monitoring group said Saturday it registered an "alarming" rise in recent days in complaints that employers are forcing or pressuring workers to vote.

"I think that in the United States and Britain they've understood they can not influence our elections", Senator Igor Morozov said on state television.

Russian President Vladimir Putin today urged Russians to vote on Sunday. At a polling station in central Moscow near the House of Government, the workplace of the Russian Prime Minister, employees of a construction firm told CNN that the company's management provided transportation to the polls early Sunday.

The only uncertainty was how many voters will turn out and Putin's victory margin for his fourth term.

Election observers and local media report threats and coercion of voters to re-register at their place of work and report later that they have voted.

Interviewed on national television Yle, Soini said that the 70 per cent support for Putin and the voter turnout at around 60 per cent denote "a sort of stability" in Russian Federation, reports Xinhua.

"They are using everything: schools, kindergartens, hospitals - the battle for the turnout is unprecedented", Roizman said.

The central election commission released midway turnout figures for far eastern and Siberian regions ranging from 28 to 100 percent.

Across the country in the city of Yekaterinburg, a doctor also said she was being coerced to vote. Mobile-phone subscribers received SMS notifications reminding them to vote.

Putin has traveled across Russian Federation pledging to raise wages, pour more funds into the country's crumbling health care and education and modernize dilapidated infrastructure.

The presidential vote is set on the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The last polls closed in Russia's western-most city, Kaliningrad, at 8 p.m.

Among Putin's challengers is Ksenia Sobchak, a 36-year-old TV host who has campaigned on a liberal platform and criticized Putin's policies. Some see Sobchak, the daughter of Putin's one-time patron, as a Kremlin project meant to add a democratic veneer to the vote and help split the ranks of Kremlin critics. His most vehement foe, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running because he was convicted of fraud in a case widely regarded as politically motivated.

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