Russians Vote as Vladimir Putin Seeks Tighter Grip on Power
Albanian Daily News
Published March 18, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin exits a polling booth as he prepares to cast his ballot during Russia's presidential election.Russians were voting Sunday in a presidential election widely expected to cement President Vladimir Putin's power for another six years.
Polls in the country's far east have already closed in an election involving 107.3 million voters eligible to cast ballots across the 11 time zones of the world's biggest country.
Putin cast his vote in Moscow on Sunday morning. "I am sure of the correctness of the course that I propose for the country," he said, according to state news agency RIA-Novosti.
Russian election officials said turnout was high, with almost 64% of the registered voting casting ballot in the Kamchatka region, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
In remote Chukotka, which has 33,208 eligible voters, officials reported over 76% turnout, RIA-Novosti said.
Around 97,000 polling stations have been opened across this vast country, according to the Central Election Commission. Russians have a choice of eight candidates, including the communist Pavel Grudinin, a fruit-farm millionaire and Ksenia Sobchak, the daughter of Putin's political mentor.
The election is an enormous logistical undertaking for a vote that is essentially a one-sided affair. There is no meaningful opposition in the running, and Putin's fiercest political opponent, Alexei Navalny, has been barred from competing. Despite a lackluster campaign period, the 65-year-old President is the clear front-runner.
Putin is seeking a fourth term as president and is already the country's longest-serving leader since the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. A win would mean a Putin-led Russia until 2024, after which he is constitutionally obliged to stand down.
While the vote may seem like a repeat of the Putin-dominated 2012 election, this one is particularly charged with anti-Western sentiment. With few election-related events to report on, Russians are seeing more news of the country's diplomatic crises with the UK and United States.