Cuban leader congratulates Putin on winning presidential election

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Vladimir Putin has unsurprisingly won Russia's presidential election, gaining at least 73.9% of the vote, exit polls say.

The other seven candidates in the presidential election trail far behind Putin in opinion polls, with Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin polling 7 percent and journalist Ksenia Sobchak at just 2 percent.

Putin won 63.6 percent of the vote in 2012, and, if the early results are confirmed, he will now stay in his post until 2024, the year he turns 72.

After a campaign without any serious political challengers, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been re-elected president of Russia for a fourth term.

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Most people who spoke to AFP said they voted for Putin, praising him for lifting the country out of the post-Soviet quagmire. Vladimir Putin has unsurprisingly won Russia's presidential election, gaining at least 73.9% of the vote, exit polls say.

Mr Putin's main challenge in the vote was to obtain a huge margin of victory in order to claim an indisputable mandate. His most prominent rival, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running.

Mr Navalny and his supporters had called for an election boycott but the extent of its success could not immediately be gauged.

The election comes as Russia's relations with Britain are highly strained over the nerve-agent poisoning in Salisbury of a former Russian spy that London blames on Moscow.

Russian officials denounced both cases as efforts to interfere in the Russian election.

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Russian media have cited unidentified Kremlin sources as saying the government was aiming for a turnout of 70 percent, with 70 percent of the vote going to Putin.

The election took place on the fourth anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, one of the most dramatic manifestations of Putin's drive to reassert Russia's power.

Vladimir Putin is widely expected to address his supporters at a massive anniversary rally in Moscow's Red Square, dedicated to Crimea voting to become a part of Russian Federation four years ago. Just weeks before the election, he announced that Russian Federation has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defenses.

Putin has been holding the Presidential office of Russian Federation since 2012 after winning three Presidential elections consecutively.

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