Vladimir Putin decisively re-elected as Russian president: preliminary results

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The Central Elections Commission said Putin had won about 73 percent of the vote, based on a count of 30 percent of the country's precincts. The major goal for Russian authorities is producing a big turnout that will hand Putin the legitimacy he craves and a mandate for his fourth term.

The first politician in years to challenge the Kremlin's grip on power, Alexei Navalny, is barred from the race because of a corruption conviction he says was fabricated.

Rather than call it a vote, Navalny's team is referring to Sunday's election as "a staged procedure to re-appoint Putin".

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, alleged Kremlin meddling in the U.S. presidential election, and Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria, have been condemned in the West.

The Foreign Secretary's comments were rebuked by Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said: "We have said on different levels and occasions that Russian Federation has nothing to do with this story".

Putin's bellicose language reached a crescendo before the election in a state-of-the-nation speech when he unveiled new nuclear weapons, saying they could hit nearly any point in the world and evade a USA -built missile shield.

Putin's three main challengers, according to the polls, were the Communist Party's Pavel Grudinin, nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky and socialite-turned-journalist Ksenia Sobchak - but they are lagging far behind with single-digit polling figures.

Selfie competitions, giveaways, food festivals and children's entertainers were laid on at polling booths in a bid to create a festive atmosphere around the election.

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Russian citizens wait in line outside the Russian embassy in Berlin, Germany.

Speaking during a visit to the Battle of Britain Bunker museum in Uxbridge alongside the Polish foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, Mr Johnson said: "Our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision - and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision - to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the United Kingdom, on the streets of Europe, for the first time since the Second World War".

In one case, a senior election official inspecting a polling station said the photographs of voting should not be allowed, and ordered election staff there to stamp it out.

Election monitors are reporting irregularities at voting stations across Russian Federation in a presidential election whose only open question is how many people cast ballots. Many took photographs of themselves voting, saying they were needed as proof.

"I am sure the programme I am offering is the right one", he said.

The doctor, who gave her name only as Yekaterina because of fears about repercussions, said she and her co-workers were told to fill out forms detailing not only where they would cast their ballots, but giving the names and details of two "allies" whom they promise to persuade to go vote.

"I think that's something that Russia's going to have to make that determination", Sanders said.

"After he brought Crimea back, he became a hero to me".

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When this is clear that there will be continued of the tension between Kiev and Moscow, Ukraine stated on this Sunday it shall not permit Russians in the whole nation to vote at Russian consulates, as per a statement come from the government information agency, Ukrinform.

Britain and Russia have been trading public insults over the use of a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok to strike down former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury.

Britain and Russian Federation last week announced tit-for-tat diplomat expulsions over the spy case and the United States issued new sanctions.

Crimea and Russia's subsequent support of separatists in eastern Ukraine led to an array of USA and European sanctions that, along with falling oil prices, damaged the Russian economy and slashed the ruble's value by half.

Mr Putin's previous Kremlin term was marked by a crackdown on the opposition after huge protests, the Ukraine conflict, military intervention in Syria and the introduction of Western sanctions that contributed to a fall in living standards.

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

State-run pollsters predict Putin will take about 70 percent of the vote, with the independent Levada Centre - branded a "foreign agent" - barred from releasing any polls.

In his next six years in office, Putin is likely to assert Russia's power overseas even more strongly.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a rally to support his bid in the upcoming presidential election at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia March 3, 2018.

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