Russians voting to elect next President, Putin getting huge support

Russians voting to elect next President, Putin getting huge support

Vladimir Putin will lead Russian Federation for another six years, after securing an expected victory in the presidential election.

Sunday's election was the first presidential vote on the Crimean peninsula since Moscow annexed the territory from Ukraine in 2014, prompting a further decline in Russia's relations with the West. Asked by a Reuters reporter why they voted, one said: "To be honest, we were forced to". "But that's good for people here, life is hard", she said.

The commission said it is quickly responding to claims of violations in the vote. "Why go and vote?" she said.

While Putin has seven challengers, none is a real threat.

More than 1,500 global observers are joining thousands of Russian observers to watch the vote.

Russia's election monitors reported irregularities at voting stations across country, even though authorities were under orders to ensure that the voting was free and fair after violations marred Putin's last election in 2012.

In one case, a senior election official inspecting a polling station said the photographs of voting should not be allowed, and ordered election staff there to stamp it out.

As U.S. authorities investigate alleged Russian interference in President Donald Trump's 2016 election, Moscow has warned of possible meddling in the Russian vote.

Turnout-boosting efforts have been the most visible feature of the campaign.

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An elderly woman visits a polling station during the presidential election in Moscow.

The election results are expected to trickle in by the end of the day and a stage where Putin is expected to deliver his victory address has already been set up in Moscow's city centre, near the Kremlin. Voters who take selfies at polling stations and post them under the designated hashtag will be able to enter a raffle for high-end electronics, including an iPhoneX.

Russia's Election Commission stated it was the target of a denial of service attack on its servers during the election.

The 65-year-old former KGB officer has sought to use the campaign to emphasise Russia's role as a major world power, boasting of its "invincible" new nuclear weapons in a pre-election speech.

Putin has traveled across Russian Federation, pledging to raise wages, pour more funds into the country's crumbling health care and education and to modernize dilapidated infrastructure.

Some 145,000 observers were monitoring the voting in the world's largest country, including 1,500 foreigners and representatives from opposition leader Alexei Navalny's movement, and they and ordinary Russians reported hundreds of voting problems.

When she hadn't voted by midday, "The chief of my unit called me and said I was the only one who hadn't voted", said the doctor, Yekaterina, who spoke on condition her last name not be used because she fears repercussions.

Sunday marks four years since Putin signed a treaty declaring Crimea to be part of Russian Federation in a move that triggered a pro-Kremlin insurgency in east Ukraine, a conflict that has claimed over 10,000 lives. Some see Sobchak, the daughter of Putin's one-time patron, as a Kremlin project meant to add a democratic veneer to the vote and help split the ranks of Kremlin critics.

He told her a YouTube broadcast that she was a "parody of a liberal candidate" and her involvement in the campaign helped the Kremlin cast the opposition in a negative light, and rejected her proposal to join forces.