Vladimir Putin wins Russian election by huge margin, exit poll shows

19 Mar 2018 11:21
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Vladimir Putin won a landslide re-election victory and extended his rule over the world’s largest country for another six years, according to exit polls.

The Russian leader will extend his total time in office to almost a quarter of a century, until 2040, as he promises to use his new term to bolster the country’s defences against the west.

In result that was widely expected, exit poll by pollster VTsIOM showed that Mr Putin had won by a massive 73.9 per cent of the vote.

A state exit poll put the turnout at 63.7 per cent, down on 2012.

Reacting to the exit poll, his campaign team said it was an "incredible victory".

Backed by state TV, the ruling party, and credited with an approval rating around 80 percent, he faced no credible threat from field of seven challengers.

His nearest rival, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, won 11.8 percent, according to near final results, while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 5.6 percent. His most vocal opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running.

A spokesman for Putin's campaign told Russia's Interfax: "The percentage that we have just seen speaks for itself. It's a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make.”

The scale of Mr Putin’s victory was a marked increase in his share of the vote from the last election, when he won 64 per cent.

The Central Election Commission said with 21 per cent of all precincts counted, Mr Putin was leading the race with 71.9% per cent of the vote.

The exit poll showed Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin in second place with 11.2 per cent of the vote, while ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky came in third with 6.7 per cent.

The election comes amid an investigation into the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

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