World Bulletin / News Desk
Putin’s new six-year term puts him on track to be Russia’s ruler for over two decades, as he has served continuously as either president or prime minister since 1999.
The election took place without major irregularities, according to preliminary reports of observers.
The most concern was expressed about a great many people not voting at their place of residence. Candidates’ representatives said this system lets people vote twice – once at their place of residence and a second time outside.
But Ella Pamfilova, the head of Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC), denied this was a problem.
In addition, there were claims that people were forced to go to polling stations. The opposition says Putin benefits from high voter turnout, as though he was the most popular candidate, his supporters are not very active.
Many methods were used to attract them to the polls. Competitions and sales were organized. There were also rumors that employees of state-funded organizations got oral orders to take part in the vote or face retaliation.
According to the election commission, about 108 million Russians went to the polls, with voter turnout of 67 percent.
Pamfilova explained the high turnout by good publicity and promotion, facilitating people voting when not at their place of residence, and arranging mobile polling stations, including railway stations and airports. She said she also believes that the Russians showed up due to Western pressure.
There were also some complaints about the campaign period.
Opposition candidate Grigory Yavlinsky claimed that showing documentaries about Putin during the campaign violated the rules because “these films are propaganda that tell us that Russia can have no other president but Putin."
Communist Pavel Grudinin also complained that the election commission had told voters too much about his own foreign financial holdings, thereby hurting his campaign.
Over 1,500 observers from 11 countries followed Russia’s presidential election, including ones from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE is set to hold a press conference on its preliminary findings and conclusions on Monday.