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As Russia Votes, Reports of Ballot Stuffing, a Hack

19 March 2018, 09:45 | Franklin Nunez

The western plot is a perfect chance to discredit Putin ahead of elections it has been suggested Credit AFP ALEXEI NIKOLSKY

The western plot is a perfect chance to discredit Putin ahead of elections it has been suggested

In a widely expected outcome, an exit poll by pollster VTsIOM showed Putin, who has dominated the political landscape for the last 18 years, had won 73.9 percent of the vote. They suspended the chief of a polling station near Moscow where a ballot stuffing incident was reported and sealed the ballot box.

"For now it's just one Putin, and other candidates are a circus - we don't really have an option", he told CNN outside a Moscow cafe on Sunday night. She said the ballot box was sealed and the man was arrested.

Russia's Central Election Commission also said it was looking into claims of ballot stuffing in Siberia's Kemerovo region.

About 107 million Russians are eligible to cast ballots and turnout was almost 60 percent an hour before polls closed in Moscow at 1700 GMT, according to figures displayed in the central electoral commission information centre. LDPR candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky is third with 6.73% of votes.

Putin, 65, cast his vote at a polling station in the headquarters of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow's Lenin Avenue.

Sobchak called on Putin's critics to "come together". Polls show he has around 70% support, compared to around 11% for his nearest challengers. Crimea figured prominently in Putin's election campaign.

Putin is expected to overwhelmingly win another six years in office. Such attacks are very common.

"It's a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make", a spokesman told Russia's Interfax.

In addition, US federal prosecutors are investigating whether Russian-linked groups interfered during the 2016 presidential election.

Election authorities said turnout nationwide Sunday was about 52 per cent at 5 p.m. Moscow time.

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But Kiev refused to allow Russians in the country to vote at consulates, according to a statement from the government information agency Ukrinform. Russian diplomatic buildings in Ukraine would be heavily guarded by Ukrainian police, it added.

The eight presidential candidates were barred from campaigning Saturday, but the message to voters was clear from billboards celebrating Russian greatness - a big theme of Putin's leadership - and Kremlin-friendly media coverage.

The English-language Moscow Times newspaper marked the election with a series of stories on young people it dubbed "Generation P", highlighting some of the 1.3 million people born the year Putin first became president.

Ukrainian leaders are also angry over Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014.

Russians began voting in a presidential election on Sunday set to give Vladimir Putin a commanding victory that could only be blemished if large numbers do not bother taking part because the result is so predictable.

Earlier on Sunday, the polling stations opened in Moscow and across central Russian Federation for the presidential elections.

Navalny himself is barred from running.

In a major democratic exercise Russians are casting their ballots in the presidential election.

Vladimir Putin is certain to win a fourth term in Sunday's election, so voter apathy is widespread.

Opposition activists and the non-governmental election monitoring group Golos reported voting irregularities. The problems included multiple ballot boxes placed out of sight of observation cameras, and last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout.



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