Russian Federation ready to hand Putin new term in presidential vote

Voter Apathy Is Putin's Greatest Foe In Russia's Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) shakes hands with with foreign delegation heads as Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu (R) follows him during a meeting before the gala in the Grand Kremlin Palace marking the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow on February 22, 2018.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to expand his country's military power and political influence, Western nations such as France, Germany, the US and the United Kingdom have accused him of attempting to interfere in their internal affairs, a charge that Putin and his government have dismissed.

Putin, 65, cast his vote at a polling station in the headquarters of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow's Lenin Avenue.

Nina Bostanova, a pensioner in Ust-Djeguta, said she decided not to vote.

Johnson said "our quarrel is with Putin's Kremlin, and with his decision" over the Salisbury incident, BBC reported on Friday.

The Kremlin's exact target for these elections isn't clear, but one goal may be 70 percent of the vote with 70 percent turnout.

"By doing this we hope to attract voters to the polling stations and we think we can increase turnout", said Nikolai Kretsu, chairman of the consumer market committee in the regional administration.

The presidential vote is set on the anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. He invited Russians to join an online contest for the best name for some of the weapons, a competition that drew hundreds of thousands of proposals.

Rising tensions with the West over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain, and new sanctions from Washington over alleged election meddling, strengthen the impression of a Russian Federation at loggerheads with the rest of the world.

Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin
Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin

Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital, after they were found unconscious on a bench in the Wiltshire city on 4 March.

"How would we live without him?"

In the town of Istra some 60 kilometres northwest of Moscow, Valeriya Ivanova, 23, and her husband also voted for Putin.

Opinion polls have given incumbent President Vladimir Putin, support of around 70 percent, or almost 10 times the backing of his nearest challenger.

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.

Putin's Kremlin-approved challengers include millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin and former reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak, but none was expected to win more than eight percent.

Eighty-five Russian regions cover eleven time zones.

Vote-counting will begin immediately after polling stations close.

Election officials flew to far-flung regions to collect votes from indigenous herders, while cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov - the only Russian now aboard the International Space Station - cast his ballot by proxy.

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