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Russia’s Putin declared winner in vote with no credible opposition

Vladimir Putin won his fifth term as Russia’s president with a record number of votes, Russia’s Central Election Commission said Sunnday, confirming exit polls that showed the country’s longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin won by a landslide in an election in which he faced no credible opposition.

With nearly 100% of all precincts counted, Putin received 87.29% of the vote, Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said. She said nearly 76 million voters cast their ballots for Putin, his highest vote tally ever.

Putin hailed the results as a clear indication of Russia’s “trust” and “hope” in him. But his many critics saw them as another illustration of the preordained nature of the election. Criticism of Putin or his war in Ukraine has been criminalized. Independent media outlets have been closed down. Putin’s fiercest political foe, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison last month.

Germany called the vote a “pseudo-election,” and Washington described it “neither free nor fair.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Putin was “sick with power and is doing everything in his power to rule forever.” British Foreign Secretary David Cameron wrote on X: “This is not what free and fair elections look like.”

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