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Putin strengthened against Westerners by his triumph in the polls

Ⓒ AFP – Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV – | Russian President Vladimir Putin at a rally and a
concert in Moscow for the 4th anniversary of the annexation of
Crimea, March 18, 2018

Vladimir Putin won a victory of unprecedented magnitude in
more than 18 years of power, re-elected president with 76.7% of
the vote according to almost final results released Monday that
comfort him in full crisis with Westerners.

At the helm of the country since 1999 as president or prime
minister, Putin can therefore remain in the Kremlin for a
fourth term – his last according to the Constitution – running
until 2024, when he will turn 72 years old.

Asked Sunday night about the possibility of a candidacy
after 2024, Mr. Putin replied: “You have to joke, what should I
do, stay here until I turn 100?

Ⓒ AFP – Vincent LEFAI – | Russian presidential election: results of the first
round of voting

With more than 56 million votes, he came very far ahead of
his opponents with a higher participation in the 2012
presidential election, the price according to the opposition
and Russian NGOs thousands of irregularities: ballots stuffings
and voters taken away by full coaches under pressure from their

He stands out more than ever as the strongman of a country
he has placed in the forefront on the international scene at
the cost of a climate of unprecedented tensions with the West
since the Cold War.

Fueled by the Syrian conflict, the Ukrainian crisis or
accusations of Russian interference in the election of Donald
Trump, the East-West confrontation has escalated further since
London accuses Moscow of poisoning a former Russian spy in the
UK -United.

Almost silent about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his
daughter until then, the Russian president assured, in his
first press conference after the election, that to accuse
Russia was “big nothing”.

– EU reaffirms support for London –

Ⓒ AFP – STR – | Counting of the ballots on 18 March 2018 in Simferopol,

He added that Moscow was “ready to cooperate” with London in
the investigation but the exchanges between the two countries
continue to look like a deaf dialogue. The head of the British
diplomacy Boris Johnson ruled Monday “increasingly absurd” the
denials of Russia on its involvement and the EU has reaffirmed
its support for London.

“We have to thank Great Britain because once again they did
not catch the Russian mentality, and once again we were put on
the sidelines when we had to mobilize,” Andrei Kondrachov said.
word of Mr. Putin’s campaign headquarters quoted by the daily

The Kremlin relativised, its spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying
“the society welded by due to any attack but around the
development projects of the country”.

Ⓒ AFP – Vincent LEFAI – | Vladimir Poutine

No Western capital congratulated the Russian president
Monday morning.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin “will remain a difficult partner,”
said Monday the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas.
“But we also need Russia to find solutions to major
international problems,” he said.

On the other hand, Vladimir Putin was quickly congratulated
by Chinese President Xi Jinping, quickly followed by Venezuelan
heads of state Nicolas Maduro then Iranian Hassan Rohani, who
spoke of a “decisive victory”.

After counting 99.8% of the ballots, Putin far outstripped
his main opponent, the Communist Party candidate Pavel
Grudinin, who received only 11.79% of the vote, in front of
ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 5 , 66%, and the
journalist close to the liberal opposition Ksénia Sobchak

Symbolically, the poll was held four years to the day after
the ratification of the annexation of Crimea, after a military
operation and a referendum deemed illegal by Kiev and the

– Contested rate of participation –

Participation at 64.7%, slightly
higher than in 2012, was driven by the Kremlin’s extensive
efforts to mobilize voters to go to an election whose outcome
was beyond doubt.

“Our people are always united in difficult times, and many
foreign leaders have contributed, and a big thank you to them,”
Ella Pamfilova, Electoral Commission President, said.

She estimated that the elections were “transparent to the
maximum”, reviewing Monday live on television some cases of
fraud reported in polling stations and the measures taken in

The Russian opposition, and in the
first place the most fierce opponent of power Alexei Navalny,
banned from voting and who had called for a boycott, accused
the authorities of having inflated the participation rate
thanks to numerous frauds, by filling the ballot boxes or by
organizing the mass transportation of voters to the polling

“The victory of Putin with more than 70% has been decided in
advance,” said the opponent, who warned that he would continue
to call for demonstrations, “the only way to lead a political
struggle in Russia.”

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