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Putin to become longest-ruling Russian President

In a recent election, Vladimir Putin celebrated a significant win, which sets him on a path to become the longest-ruling Russian leader in over two centuries.


The 71-year-old incumbent has seen his major rivals either deceased, incarcerated, or exiled, and has been relentless in suppressing dissent against his governance and the military actions in Ukraine.


Vladimir Putin stated, “I want to thank all of you and all citizens of the country for your support and this trust,” during a press briefing at his campaign base in Moscow shortly after the voting concluded.


He further declared, “No matter who or how much they want to intimidate us, no matter who or how much they want to suppress us, our will, our consciousness — no one has ever succeeded in anything like this in history. It has not worked now and will not work in the future. Never.”


According to the official election figures from state news agency RIA, with over 99 percent of ballots counted, Putin had garnered 87 percent of the votes, marking an unprecedented triumph in a presidential race lacking real competition.


The election spanned three days and coincided with intensified Ukrainian attacks, incursions by pro-Kyiv groups into Russian territory, and disruptions at voting locations.


The Kremlin portrayed the election as an opportunity for Russians to endorse the comprehensive military campaign in Ukraine, with polls also open in territories under Russian control.


In his victory speech, Putin extended his gratitude to the Russian military personnel engaged in Ukraine.


Despite recent substantial Ukrainian offensives and assaults by pro-Ukrainian forces on Russian border towns, Putin maintained that the Russian military held a significant strategic edge, saying, “The initiative belongs entirely to the Russian armed forces. In some areas, our guys are just mowing them — the enemy — down.”


The election was denounced by Kyiv and its partners as fraudulent. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized Putin, calling him a “dictator” intoxicated with power and willing to commit any wrongdoing to maintain his authority.


EU officials and international leaders expressed skepticism about the election’s legitimacy, with some offering ironic congratulations and others outright condemning the process, especially the voting conducted in Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia.


Conversely, leaders from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Bolivia extended their congratulations to Putin on his re-election.


Should Putin serve another full term, he would surpass all Russian leaders in tenure since Catherine the Great.


Supporters of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most formidable adversary who recently passed away in prison, attempted to disrupt the election by encouraging voters to spoil their ballots.


Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, received a warm welcome in Berlin, where she voted at the Russian embassy and honored her late husband by writing his name on her ballot.


In Moscow, some heeded the call of the opposition, with one young voter expressing, “I came to show that there are many of us, that we exist, that we are not some insignificant minority.”


Putin dismissed the impact of the protests and warned that those who invalidated their votes would face consequences.


Reflecting on Navalny’s death, Putin described it as a “sad event” in his initial public remarks on the matter.


Using his name in public for the first time in years during a televised news conference, Putin said: “As for Mr. Navalny. Yes, he passed away. This is always a sad event.”


Putin said a colleague had proposed swapping Navalny several days before he died for “some people” currently held in prisons in Western countries.


“The person who was talking to me hadn’t finished his sentence and I said ‘I agree’”.


Former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev also congratulated Putin on his “splendid victory” long before the final results were due to be announced.


And state-run television praised how Russians had rallied with “colossal support for the president” as well as the “unbelievable consolidation” of the country behind its leader.


At Navalny’s grave in a Moscow cemetery, AFP reporters saw spoiled ballot papers with the opposition leader’s name scrawled across them on a pile of flowers.


“We live in a country where we will go to jail if we speak our mind. So when I come to moments like this and see a lot of people, I realise that we are not alone,” said 33-year-old Regina.


There were repeated acts of protest in the first days of polling, with a spate of arrests of Russians accused of pouring dye into ballot boxes or arson attacks.


Any public dissent in Russia has been harshly punished since the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and there were multiple warnings from the authorities against election protests.


The OVD-Info police monitoring group announced that at least 80 people had been detained across nearly 20 cities in Russia for protest actions linked to the elections.

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