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Putin reelected, opposition cries foul
Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after securing an expected victory in Sunday's presidential election.Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades, recorded his best-ever election performance with more than 76 percent of the vote, but the opposition has cried foul.
About 107 million Russians were eligible to cast ballots and the central election commission said turnout was around 60 percent.
With Putin garnering 76.67 percent of the vote, he was well ahead of his nearest competitor Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin who was on 12 percent.
"This was well over the 70 percent mark that the Kremlin was hoping for to highlight the credibility of the victory", says RFI Moscow correspondent Thomas Lowe.
Ultra-nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky took around six percent, the former reality TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak 1.5 percent and the three other candidates were on less than a single percentage point each.
Navalny claims fraud
There was one notable absence in the line-up: Alexei Navalny - Putin's most most vocal critic who was barred from the ballot on legal grounds. He called on his supporters to boycott the vote.
Navalny, who sent more than 33,000 observers across the country to see how official turnout figures differed from those of monitors, said there had been "unprecedented violations".
Monitors reported ballot stuffing and other cases of alleged fraud as the Kremlin pushed for a high turnout to give greater legitimacy to Putin's victory.
UK spy poisoning
The election was held as Russia faces increasing isolation on the world stage over the spy poisoning case in Britain, its involvement in Syria and a fresh round of US sanctions just as it gears up for the football World Cup in the summer.
However, there was a nod of support from China's Xi Jinping who was among the first world leaders to congratulate Putin.
President Xi has just been handed a second term himself and has gained a path to indefinite rule after presidential term limits were lifted last week.