Criminal Gangs May 'Manipulate' Putin — Russian Exile

Boris Johnson Likely ‘Putin's decision’ to order use of nerve agent in UK

Voters are widely expected to re-elect Putin to his fourth term this Sunday against a weak field of contenders. "Now, I would be more circumspect", Khodorkovsky said.

"The programme that I propose for the country is the right one", he declared. "I think there will be an alternative one day but many years later". Putin extolled them for their support.

His campaign team said it was an "incredible victory".

Then he left the stage after speaking for less than two minutes.

"We are bound for success", he told chanting crowds near the Kremlin.

The years under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s were a disaster, Tretyakov added, echoing a common theme.

Kremlin officials privately acknowledge some voters are reluctant to show up and vote, even if they support Putin, because they believe his victory is already a foregone conclusion.

The strongman looks set to become one of modern Russia's longest-ever rulers after securing a fourth presidential term in a poll in which he main opponent was barred from running.

"Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin and with his decision - and we think it is overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision - to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War".

The election grants Putin another six years in office - which could be his last unless the Russian constitution is amended, permitting him to run again in 2024.

The 36-year-old star TV host casts herself as a choice for those who have grown exhausted of Putin and his familiar challengers and want liberal changes.

At a polling station in Vladivostok, a 35-year-old man said he wanted Putin to lead the country for another term because he felt his town had developed from a decade ago.

Appearing on BBC Newsnight, the oil tycoon was asked about who was behind the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Wilts. He garnered 76.66% of the vote in the March 18 election with 99.84% of the ballots counted, reports TASS news agency. The smallest number of votes was received by a candidate from the Communists of Russia, Maxim Suraykin - eight people voted for him.




Election officials moved quickly to respond to some of the violations.

Close to 109 people were registered to cast ballots at 100,000 voting stations across the 85 regions and republics of the Russian Federation.

The city of Moscow showed the most violations, about 500. He said he briefly wondered whether it was worth voting at all.

"China is willing to work with Russia to keep promoting China-Russia relations to a higher level, provide driving force for respective national development in both countries, and promote regional and global peace and tranquility", Xi said in his message.

Putin faced seven challengers Sunday.

The doctor, who gave her name only as Yekaterina because of fears about repercussions, said she and her co-workers were told to fill out forms detailing not only where they would cast their ballots, but giving the names and details of two "allies" whom they promised to persuade to go vote.

Results for all other candidates, including former reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak and ultra-nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky were forecast to be in single figures.

Leaders from the United States, Germany and France have already joined the U.K.in accusing Russian Federation of being behind the attack in a statement this week.

"Who am I voting for?" Complaints of ballot-rigging triggered the biggest street protests of the Putin era in 2011 and before the 2012 presidential election.

The election took place on the fourth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which provoked worldwide criticism but boosted Putin's popularity at home.

Independent election observers and activists have alleged numerous incidents of ballot stuffing and other irregularities in Sunday's vote.

The annexation was bitterly contested by Kiev and ratcheted up tensions between Russia and the West. Russians living in Ukraine were unable to take part in Sunday's vote because access to Russian diplomatic missions was blocked by the Kiev government.

Information for this article was contributed by Neil MacFarquhar of The New York Times; by Jim Heintz, Vladimir Isachenkov, Francesca Ebel, Angela Charlton, Nataliya Vasilyeva, Kate de Pury and Yuras Karmanau of The Associated Press; and by Henry Meyer, Ilya Arkhipov, Stepan Kravchenko and Irina Reznik of Bloomberg News.

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