Vladimir Putin, who has literally been at the helm of Russian politics since the turn of the century, cruised through another historic victory by winning a fourth term in Russia’s Presidential elections on March 18, 2018.
Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades, recorded his best election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote in the preliminary results. The thumping mandate gives Putin another six years of power. The leader, however, rejected the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the opposition cried foul, reporting ballot stuffing and other cases of alleged fraud as the Kremlin pushed for a high turnout to give greater legitimacy to Putin's historic fourth term.
• The 2018 elections saw Putin go up against seven other candidates to retain his coveted position.
• According to central election commission data, with 99.8 percent of ballots counted Putin received 76.67 per cent of the vote, well ahead of his nearest competitor Pavel Grudinin of the Communist Party, who received around 11.79 per cent of the vote, which is the lowest ever for the Communist Party.
• Other names in the presidential race included that of Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR who took around 5.66 percent of the votes, former reality TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak who got 1.67 per cent votes and veteran liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky who received just over 1 percent of the vote.
• Putin’s strongest vocal critic and competitor Alexei Navalny was prohibited from running due to a previous conviction for corruption, though his supporters and international observers claim that the conviction was politically motivated.
• The win has extended Putin’s power until at least 2024. He is already Russia's longest-serving leader since Stalin.
The voter turnout in the elections was more than 67 per cent with the authorities putting in their everything to boost engagement in the polls.
Some of the engagement techniques rolled out to attract voters to the polling stations included selfie competitions, free giveaways, food festivals and children’s entertainers.
This year’s victory has marked an increase in Putin’s share of votes from 2012 when he won 64 per cent of the votes.
Since first being elected president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on the world's biggest country.
The election came amidst escalating tensions with the West, especially with reports suggesting that Moscow was behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent- Sergei Skripal- in Britain earlier this month.
The reports were followed up with both Britain and Russia announcing expulsion of each other’s diplomats from their territories.
The United States also recently imposed new sanctions against Russia for trying to influence the 2016 US Presidential elections.