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Vladimir Putin wins fourth term as Russian president with landslide vote

Vladimir Putin has swept to a landslide victory to win a fourth term as Russian president, keeping him in power for at least six more years, exit polls suggest.

Mr Putin won 73.9% of Sunday’s presidential vote, according to a nationwide poll by the All-Russia Opinion Research Centre.

It mirrored early results from Russia’s Far East where Mr Putin was leading the race with 71.9% of the vote.

The exit poll showed Communist candidate Pavel Grudinin was in second place with 11.2%, while ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky came in third with 6.7%.

Russian campaign flag depicting Vladimir Putin waving on the balcony of an apartment building in Moscow.
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Mr Putin was first appointed president in December 1999

Mr Putin’s most well-known opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was rejected as a candidate because he was convicted of fraud in a case widely regarded as politically motivated.

Sunday’s vote was also tainted by allegations of election violations as footage released by a government opposition group appeared to ballot boxes being stuffed.

Members of the winter swimming club 'Polar Bear' visit a polling station to cast their votes during the presidential election in the Russian city of Barnaul
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Members of the winter swimming club ‘Polar Bear’ cast their votes

Casting his ballot in Moscow, Mr Putin appeared confident of victory.

“The programme that I propose for the country is the right one,” he said.

The presidential election came amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West.

The UK has blamed the Kremlin for the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury, prompting the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats.

Meanwhile, the US has imposed sanctions on 19 Russians for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

There also been criticism from the West of Russia’s military support for Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.

The election took place on the fourth anniversary of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which led to an array of US and European sanctions.

Mr Putin – who was first appointed president in December 1999 – announced weeks before the election that Russia has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.

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