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Russia election; Putin clears polls with 87.97% vote



Vladimir Putin was headed for another six-year term as Russian president Sunday, exit polls showed, paving the way for the hardline former spy to become the longest-serving Russian leader in more than 200 years.

Victory for the 71-year-old in the three-day vote was never in doubt, with all his major opponents dead, in prison, or exiled, and authorities waging an unrelenting crackdown on those who publicly oppose the Kremlin or its military offensive on Ukraine. 

The government-run VTsIOM pollster projected Putin had won the election with 87 percent of the vote after polls closed in Russia’s westernmost region of Kaliningrad at 1700 GMT.

The highly-touted election was marked by a surge in deadly Ukrainian bombardments, incursions into Russian territory by pro-Kyiv sabotage groups, and vandalism at polling stations.

The Kremlin cast the election as an opportunity for Russians to throw their weight behind the full-scale military operation in Ukraine, where voting is also being staged in Russian-controlled territories.

Kyiv slammed the vote as a sham and President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Putin as a “dictator” who was “drunk from power”.

“There is no evil he will not commit to prolong his personal power,” Zelensky said in a message on social media.

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