Narendra Modi congratulates Vladimir Putin on reelection as Russian president

Russia votes to hand Vladimir Putin 4th presidential term

Putin Far Ahead in Fraud-Tainted Russian Vote

The election came amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West, with reports that Moscow was behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain and that its internet trolls had mounted an extensive campaign to undermine the 2016 USA presidential election.

The 65-year-old former KGB officer used an otherwise lacklustre presidential campaign to emphasise Russia's role as a major world power, boasting of its "invincible" new nuclear weapons in a pre-election speech.

After the victory, Putin said, "It's very important to maintain this unity".

With almost 100% of the votes counted, the Central Election Commission (CEC) announced that Mr. Putin, who has run Russian Federation as President or Prime Minister since 1999, had won 76.69% of the vote. Russia is now at odds with the West over Syria and Ukraine; allegations of cyberattacks and meddling in foreign elections; and the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter.

"Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not real choice", the OSCE said in a statement.

"Our elections have proved once again... that it's not possible to manipulate our people", she said.

Backed by state TV and the ruling party, and credited with an approval rating of around 80%, Mr. Putin faced no credible threat from a field of seven challengers.

Mr Putin attracted 76.7 per cent of the total votes cast, streets ahead of his closest rival Pavel Grudinin of the Communist Party, who attracted 11.8 per cent of voters. "He wants to show that there is a little bit of Putin in every Russian, that he plays the Russian soul like a guitar", said political analyst Konstantin Kalachev.

Near-final figures put turnout at 67.7%, just shy of the 70% the Kremlin was reported to have been aiming for before the vote.

Thanking the Prime Minister for the call, Putin conveyed his commitment to further strengthen India-Russia relations in all spheres, and also his good wishes for the continued progress of India.

The longer-term question is whether Putin will soften his anti-Western rhetoric now the election is won.

"What, am I going to sit here until I am 100 years old?"

Since first being elected president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on the world's biggest country, muzzling opposition, putting television under state control and reasserting Moscow's standing overseas.

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