Russians head to polls as Putin prepares for 4th term

Police army and other emergency service personnel examine a car found in Durrington near Salisbury England that investigators believe may be connected to the nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia

"These are elections of the supreme ruler not only of Russian Federation, but of the entire Planet Earth", he said after having cast his vote in Moscow.

Earlier Sunday, there were widespread reports of ballot-box stuffing and forced voting, but complaints of voting irregularities will likely do little to undermine Putin, according to the AP.

She said those alleging the election was rigged were biased and peddling "Russophobia", echoing a line used by the Kremlin to describe Western criticism of Russian Federation. They suspended the chief of a polling station near Moscow where a ballot stuffing incident was reported and sealed the ballot box. She said the ballot box was sealed and the man was arrested.

At polling station number 216 in Ust-Djeguta, Marina Kostina was supervising two teenage girls who were photographing voters.

Russian opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak has cast her ballot and urged Vladimir Putin's critics to vote instead of boycotting.

Polling at around 70 percent, the 65-year-old former KGB officer is certain to extend his term to 2024 despite a lacklustre campaign and his refusal to participate in televised debates. She said "every extra percentage point" for Putin is a result of those who refuse or don't bother to vote. Some see Sobchak, the daughter of Putin's one-time patron, as a Kremlin project meant to add a democratic veneer to the vote and help split the ranks of Kremlin critics.

Yugene Yarmakov, 23, who was voting for the first time, said there were too many "joke candidates". Such attacks are very common.

And while McCaffrey granted that others in the administration have been tough on Russian Federation, "I can not understand why President Trump simply won't respond to this guy who is running an active criminal oligarchy in Russian Federation which is hostile to USA and allied interests".

As U.S. authorities investigate alleged Russian hacking and other interference in President Donald Trump's 2016 election, Russian authorities have claimed that foreign powers are seeking to interfere in Sunday's vote.

Putin's campaign chairman declared turnout to be high and needled London by suggesting that may be a rally-round-the-flag response by voters to the accusations over the Salisbury attack. Pamfilova said turnout nationwide at 11 a.m. Moscow time (0800 GMT) was 16.9 percent, up from 12.2 percent at the same time in the last election in 2012.

But Kiev refused to allow Russians in the country to vote at consulates, according to a statement from the government information agency Ukrinform. Russian citizens are also casting their votes in their embassies and other representative offices in 145 countries.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine four years ago, earning Putin admiration from many Russians and condemnation from the West.

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

Russian Federation is holding a presidential election today and Putin is expected to win in dominant fashion.

Navalny himself is barred from running.

While Putin has seven challengers, none is a real threat.

The longer-term question is whether Putin will soften his anti-Western rhetoric now the election is won.

Russia's election monitors reported irregularities at voting stations across country, even though authorities were under orders to ensure that the voting was free and fair after violations marred Putin's last election in 2012.


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