Vladimir Putin wins fourth term as Russia's President

EU foreign affairs chief Fedrica Mogherini on 19 March 2018 chairing the ministerial meeting

Russians voted on Sunday in an election set to hand President Vladimir Putin a fourth Kremlin term, as the country is embroiled in a crisis with Britain and its allies over a spy poisoning.

AP reports he won over 73 percent of the vote and will remain president for at least the next six years.

Asked about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Britain, he said Russian Federation did not now have chemical weapons and it would be "nonsense" to think Russian Federation would launch such an attack in the lead up to an election. She said "every extra percentage point" for Putin is a result of those who refuse or don't bother to vote.

Mr Putin hopes for high turnout despite widespread apathy.

He faced seven minor candidates on the ballot. Navalny and his supporters had called for an election boycott but the extent of its success could not immediately be gauged.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. Sunday in Russia's Far East regions of Chukotka and Kamchatka. Britain and Russian Federation last week announced diplomat expulsions over the spy case and the United States issued new sanctions.

In response, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats, prompting a tit-for-tat move by Moscow. But the disputes likely worked in Putin's favor, reinforcing the official stance that the West is infected with "Russophobia" and determined to undermine both Putin and Russian cultural values.

Sunday marked four years since Putin signed a treaty that declared Crimea part of Russian Federation following its annexation from Ukraine, a move that led to the outbreak of a pro-Kremlin insurgency in the east of the ex-Soviet country, in a conflict that claimed more than 10,000 lives. Authorities have spent unprecedented funds to get out the vote to ensure he has a strong mandate for his next six years in office.

The nuclear-capable missile has now been named "Palmyra".

His friend, 21-year-old modeling agent Max V, also chose not to vote, saying there weren't enough candidates to choose from.

"The program that I propose for the country is the right one", he declared.

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Employees of state and private companies have reported coming under pressure to vote, while students have been threatened with problems in their exams or even expulsion if they do not take part, according to the opposition-leaning Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

"But the answer was easy ... if I want to keep working, I vote", Yevgeny, who did not want to give out his last name said.

She had earlier said that anyone involved in violations would be caught.

In Moscow, first-time voters were being given free tickets for pop concerts, and health authorities were offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations.

The only hiccup could come in the form of apathetic voters already expecting Putin to win - and failing to go to the ballot box.

Putin's main foe, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race because of a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated.

Members of the winter swimming club "Polar Bear" visit a polling station to cast their votes during the presidential election in the city of Barnaul.

One video shows newlyweds arriving at a polling station in Tatarstan after tying the knot, the bride in a gorgeous white dress, accompanied by 40 wedding guests.

Navalny, the opposition leader whose group was also monitoring the vote, dismissed Putin's challengers on the ballot as "puppets". During the 2012 presidential elections, 65.3 percent of voters turned up to the voting. Elections are being coincided with the fourth anniversary of the annexation of the peninsula.

Security forces are surrounding Russian facilities in Ukraine amid anger over the Ukrainian government's refusal to allow ordinary Russians to vote for president. Ukraine is also angry over Russian support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, where a deadly conflict continues.

Yekaterina said she isn't sure what she'll do with her ballot, musing that "maybe I'll just write 'Putin is a moron.'" But she clearly understands that not showing up at the polling place Sunday will not only endanger her job but will reflect badly on her boss, whom she likes. "The others, it's a circus".

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