Russian monitors report election irregularities

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a youth forum “Russia Land of Opportunity” in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a youth forum “Russia Land of Opportunity” in Moscow

"For now it's just one Putin, and other candidates are a circus - we don't really have an option", he told CNN outside a Moscow cafe on Sunday night.

His only real challenge was to run up the tally so high that he could claim an indisputable mandate. The Central Elections Commission said Putin had won about 72 percent of the vote, based on a count of 22 percent of the country's precincts.

There were widespread reports of ballot-box stuffing and forced voting, but complaints of voting irregularities will likely do little to undermine Putin, according to the Associated Press.

As the embodiment of Russia's resurgent power on the world stage, Putin commands vast loyalty among Russians.

Levada's Stepan Goncharov said the independent pollster - which was barred by law to publish research related to the election during the campaign - expected turnout to be between 57 and 68 per cent.

Then he left the stage after speaking for less than two minutes, a seemingly perfunctory appearance that encapsulated the election's predictability.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he boycotted the presidential election and advises other Russians to do the same.

There were widespread reports of forced voting Sunday, efforts to make Russian Federation appear to be a robust democracy.

In Moscow, the voting will start nine hours later, at 5:00 am GMT, and proceed until the polls close at 8:00 pm [17:00 GMT]. Asked by a Reuters reporter why, one of the group, a young woman, said: "What do you mean why?" The voters were taking pictures of the pocket calendars or leaflets that poll workers distributed, seemingly as proof of voting, he said. The problems included multiple ballot boxes placed out of sight of observation cameras, and last-minute voter registration changes likely created to boost turnout.

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But Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, said no serious violations had been registered yet. In Moscow alone, authorities spent 50 million rubles ($870,000) on balloons and festive decorations at polling stations.

And in the far eastern town of Artyom a man tossed several ballots into the box, according to Tatiana Gladkhikh, the head of the regional election commission.

Alexei Navalny, a key critic of Putin who has been barred from running in the election, claims people are being bussed to polling stations in a bid to improve turnout.

In addition to that, United States of America lately imposed sanctions on Russian Federation for meddling with their presidential election, however, the Moscow authorities keep denying such allegations.

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

In his first public comments on the poisoning, Putin on Sunday referred to the allegations against Russian Federation as "nonsense".

Voting was also due to take place in the Crimea, which Russian Federation annexed from Ukraine in 2014. But Mr Putin's popularity remained strong, apparently buttressed by nationalist pride.

Since taking power 18 years ago, Putin has stamped his total authority on the country, silencing opposition and reasserting Moscow's lost might overseas.

Just weeks before the election, he announced that Russian Federation has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.

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Casting his ballot in Moscow, Putin was confident of victory, saying he would consider any percentage of votes a success.

Given the lack of real competition in the presidential race, authorities had to struggle against voter apathy and in the process put many of Russia's almost 111 million voters under intense pressure to cast ballots.

Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old?

"But the answer was easy. if I want to keep working, I vote", he said, speaking on condition that his last name not be used out of fear his employer - the Moscow city government - would find out. For older voters, Moscow health authorities will be offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations.

Navalny, 41, has denounced the election as a sham and urged Russians to boycott the vote.

Authorities also appealed to patriotic feelings by holding the vote on the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Security forces are surrounding Russian facilities in Ukraine amid anger over the Ukrainian government's refusal to allow ordinary Russians to vote for president. Polls show that most Russians continue to see the takeover of that Black Sea peninsula as a major achievement despite subsequent Western sanctions.

"Who am I voting for?"

Yekaterina said she isn't sure what she'll do with her ballot, musing that "maybe I'll just write 'Putin is a moron.'" But she clearly understands that not showing up at the polling place Sunday will not only endanger her job but will reflect badly on her boss, whom she likes.

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