Putin Wins Russian Presidential Election


President Vladimir V. Putin on Sunday prolonged his rule over Russia till 2030, utilizing a closely stage-managed presidential election with no actual competitors to painting overwhelming public assist for his home dominance and his invasion of Ukraine.

Some Russians tried to show the undemocratic vote right into a protest, forming lengthy traces at polling stations at a predetermined time — midday — to register their discontent. On the identical time, Ukraine sought to solid its personal vote of kinds by firing a volley of exploding drones at Moscow and different targets.

However the Kremlin brushed these challenges apart and launched outcomes after the polls closed claiming that Mr. Putin had gained 87 % of the vote — an excellent increased quantity than within the 4 earlier elections he participated in.

Afterward, Mr. Putin took a prolonged, televised victory lap, together with a swaggering, after-midnight information convention at which he commented on the demise of the imprisoned opposition chief Aleksei A. Navalny for the primary time, referring to it as an “unlucky incident.”

Mr. Putin is now set to make use of his new six-year time period to additional cement his management of Russian politics and to press on with the battle in Ukraine. If he sees the time period by means of to its finish, he’ll turn out to be the longest-serving Russian chief since Catherine the Nice within the 1700s.

Western governments had been fast to sentence the election as undemocratic. Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for President Biden’s Nationwide Safety Council, stated “the elections had been clearly not free nor honest.”

However as Mr. Putin prepares to imagine a fifth time period as president, he seems as emboldened as ever, deepening his confrontation with the West and exhibiting a willingness to maintain escalating tensions. Requested on the information convention whether or not he believed {that a} full-scale battle between Russia and NATO was doable, Mr. Putin responded: “I believe that something is feasible in immediately’s world.”

Regardless of the condemnation from the West, the Kremlin views these elections as a ritual essential to Mr. Putin’s portrayal of himself as a genuinely widespread chief. Analysts now anticipate him to raise hard-line supporters of the battle inside the Russian authorities, betting that Western assist for Ukraine will ultimately crumble and Ukraine’s authorities compelled to barter a peace deal on Russia’s phrases.

Requested about his priorities for his subsequent time period, Mr. Putin started by referring to his invasion of Ukraine. “We have to perform the duties within the context of the particular army operation,” he stated. The outcomes, he stated, have helped “consolidate society” round his management, a chorus additionally repeated on state tv.

The extent of the Russian public’s true assist for Mr. Putin within the election was onerous to evaluate, provided that opposition candidates had been barred from operating and that ballot-stuffing and different instances of fraud had been frequent occurrences in previous Russian elections. This was additionally the least clear election in current Russian historical past, with the work of unbiased ballot observers diminished to ranges not seen because the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Greater than 5 million votes had been reported to have come from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, the place individuals had been at instances directed to solid their votes beneath the watch of armed Russian troopers; in Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk area, Mr. Putin was reported to have acquired 95 % of the vote.

Within the final presidential election, in 2018, Mr. Putin’s official end result was 78 % of the vote — some 10 factors decrease than this weekend.

Grigorii Golosov, a political scientist in St. Petersburg, stated in a cellphone interview that he was shocked by the excessive share of the vote the Kremlin claimed, describing it as “attribute of extraordinarily closed autocracies.”

“They will declare any outcomes they need, provided that the method will not be clear,” Mr. Golosov stated. “All that these outcomes communicate to is the diploma of management over the electoral system, the election course of, that the Russian authorities have attained.”

For the primary time in a Russian presidential election, the vote lasted for 3 days, from Friday to Sunday — an prolonged interval that made it simpler for the Kremlin to drive up turnout, and tougher for anybody to identify fraud.

Ever since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Russian authorities have mounted a marketing campaign of repression unseen since Soviet instances, successfully criminalizing any type of antiwar speech.

And a few voters interviewed in Moscow stated they had been proud to have voted for Mr. Putin, repeating a story that could be a staple of Russian state tv. The president, they stated, had turned Russia right into a affluent, revered world energy that has been compelled into army battle with a Western-armed Ukraine.

“I’m happy with my nation and my president,” Irina, 59, stated close to a polling station on central Moscow’s Kutuzovsky Avenue, declining to present her final identify when chatting with a Western reporter. “He elevated us globally to the extent that he gained’t let anybody offend us.”

Ukraine repeatedly tried to undermine Mr. Putin’s picture as a pacesetter defending Russia by launching assaults all through the voting interval.

On Sunday, Russian officers stated that Ukraine had focused seven areas of the nation with exploding drones, and the Russian army stated it had shot down 35 of them. An oil refinery was set on hearth within the Krasnodar area of southern Russia and air protection forces shot down two drones flying towards Moscow, Russian officers stated.

However there was little proof that the assaults — which had been largely ignored by state media — had succeeded in puncturing Mr. Putin’s aura amongst his supporters.

Pyotr, 41, a advertising specialist in Moscow, expressed satisfaction that Mr. Putin may outwit and outlast Western adversaries. “In opposition to the background of those under-presidents, the Macrons and so forth,” he stated, referring to President Emmanuel Macron of France, Mr. Putin “seems like such a celestial being.”

The opposite three candidates on the presidential poll had been all members of the State Duma, Russia’s rubber-stamp Parliament, and had voted for the battle in Ukraine, for elevated censorship and for legal guidelines curbing homosexual rights.

With Mr. Putin’s best-known critics in jail or in exile, one little-known opponent of the battle, Boris B. Nadezhdin, did handle to gather tens of hundreds of signatures in an try to get on the poll. However the authorities invalidated sufficient of the signatures final month to bar him, citing what it referred to as “irregularities.”

Nonetheless, Russia’s embattled and largely exiled opposition managed to make use of the elections to mount an uncommon protest: Putin opponents had been inspired to line up at their polling station at midday native time on Sunday. Whereas it was onerous to evaluate what number of voters selected that point to specific their discontent, one polling station close to Moscow’s famed Tretyakov Gallery was comparatively quiet earlier than a protracted line shaped abruptly at midday.

“That is our protest — we don’t have another choices,” stated Lena, 61, who got here to a polling station in central Moscow earlier than midday intending, she stated, to spoil her poll. “All of us respectable individuals are hostages right here.”

Like different voters interviewed, she declined to offer her final identify, for concern of reprisal.

The noontime traces had been even longer in cities with giant Russian diasporas — like Belgrade, Serbia, and Yerevan, Armenia — the place the Russian Embassy served as a polling station. By 1 p.m. in Berlin, the road to vote snaked for roughly a mile by means of town streets, ending simply previous the spot the place an indication marked the placement of Hitler’s World Struggle II bunker.

Yulia Navalnaya, Mr. Navalny’s widow, waited within the line for roughly six hours, making one in all her first public appearances since declaring that she would keep on her husband’s political work after he died final month. She stated after leaving the Russian Embassy that she had written “Navalny” on her poll.

Ms. Navalnaya hugged and took pictures with supporters who approached her, a few of them in tears.

Yulia Lozovskaya, 29, who moved to Germany from St. Petersburg after Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, stated she had sought out Ms. Navalnaya after studying from social media that she was standing someplace within the line.

“You are feeling you’re not alone,” Ms. Lozovskaya stated, referring to the scale of the group. “And that offers monumental power.”

Reporting was contributed by Alina Lobzina, Valerie Hopkins, Anatoly Kurmanaev and Milana Mazaeva.


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