Russian President Vladimir Putin was declared winner in the presidential election held on Sunday. The Central Election Commission announced that Putin, who has dominated Russian politics for 18 years as president or prime Minister, was reelected with 75.9% of the votes, Reuters reported.
Reports of irregularities surfaced on social media with videos purportedly showing election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers, BBC reported. Russia’s Central Election Commission acknowledged several irregularities, but is likely to stand by the result, according to Reuters.
Putin’s main rival and Opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from contesting the elections over an embezzlement conviction. Navalny alleged that the conviction was a ploy.
The president said the results were a vote of confidence in his government’s achievements over the last few years. “It is very important to maintain this unity,” Putin said at a rally in Moscow after the results were declared. “We will think about the future of our great Motherland.” Putin promised to increase Russia’s defence against rivals in the West and improve the standard of living.
Putin’s re-election comes at a time when the United Kingdom and several other nations have accused his government of perpetrating a nerve agent attack on a former double agent in Salisbury.
The president, however, ruled out running for office in the next election. “What you are saying is a bit funny,” he said responding to queries about the next election. “Do you think that I will stay here until I’m 100 years old? No!” He will be 71 when he completes his latest term in 2024.