Putin wins big to seal fourth term amid rigging allegations

Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a softer tone towards the West on Monday after winning his biggest ever election victory, saying he had no desire for an arms race and would do everything he could to resolve differences with other countries.
President Vladimir Putin visiting his campaign headquarters in Moscow late on Sunday after his win. He recorded his best-ever election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote, but rejected the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.
President Vladimir Putin visiting his campaign headquarters in Moscow late on Sunday after his win. He recorded his best-ever election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote, but rejected the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Vladimir Putin is set for another six years in power - the President's fourth term - after winning a record victory in Russia's election.

He recorded his best-ever election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote, but rejected the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.

The opposition said the results were rigged, while Mr Putin's supporters said Western pressure on their leader, including Britain's accusations in a spy row, prompted Russians to close ranks behind him.

Official results showed Mr Putin's nearest competitor, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, took 11.8 per cent of the vote, while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 5.6 per cent.

At a meeting yesterday with other election candidates, Mr Putin pledged to cut military spending even as he beefs up Russia's defences against the West.

"We have plans to decrease our defence spending both this year and next. But this will not lead to any decline in the country's defence capacity," he said. "We will not allow for any sort of arms race." He also insisted Moscow will use diplomatic channels to settle differences with other countries.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'Putin wins big to seal fourth term amid rigging allegations'. Print Edition | Subscribe