Senior officials say decisive victory reflects popular support for muscular foreign policy
Senior Russian officials have said that Vladimir Putin's decisive win in the presidential elections reflects popular support for his muscular foreign policy and would bolster his role as a counterweight to the west.
” It is now obvious to everyone that Putin pursues an independent foreign policy and stands up for the national interests that the citizens of our country share ,” Valentina Matviyenko, head of the federation council, told the Russia 24 television station on Monday.” This strengthens his capabilities, this strengthens his weight, this strengthens his authority in the world .”
But Putin sought to play the peacemaker at a meeting with his seven defeated presidential challengers in the Kremlin.” We have no intention of engaging in some kind of limbs race ,” he said.” Merely the opposite, we will seek to develop constructive relations with other countries. We will do all we can to solve all disagreements with our partners utilizing political and diplomatic means .”
Putin's victory, with a 76.7% share of the vote, comes amid high tensions between London and Moscow over the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in the UK on Monday to begin testing samples from the 4 March attack, which Putin has denied was Moscow's do.
There was a certain swagger in Moscow after Putin's victory. His campaign head thanked Great Britain for mobilising Russian voters over the nerve agent attack. Putin's first executive order of the day was to call up army reservists for military training.
But opposition activists highlighted a number of cases of vote rigging and statistical anomalies, including millions of elections cast in polling place that recorded exactly 85%, 90% and 95% turnout. The respected Russian business daily Vedomosti also noted the appearance of virtually 1.5 million elections overnight, equivalent to 2% of the vote.
The total number of ballots cast on Sunday for Putin, who has spent 18 years as Russia's most powerful politician, surpassed 56.2 m. That was a record total, even discounting the nearly 1m referendums he gained as a result of the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe( OSCE) said here on Monday there had been no real selection in Russia's presidential election and complained it had been marked by unfair pressure on critical voices.
” Choice without real rivalry, as we have seen here, is not real choice ,” the OSCE said in a statement, adding that restrictions on fundamental freedoms, as well as on nominee enrollment, had restriction the space for political engagement. Russia's central national elections commission said on Monday morning that it had not registered any serious complaints of violations.
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