Vladimir Putin won the Russian election easily.
By ANDREW MANGELSDORF
Vladimir Putin has been voted in for his fourth six-year term as President of Russia with more than 76 per cent of the vote, official results showed yesterday.
Mr Putin’s nearest competitor, millionaire Communist Pavel Gurdinin, received just 12 per cent of the vote, leaving Putin in power until 2024.
Mr Putin’s victory has been marred by controversy, with many of his opponents removed from the race and dozens of videos have appeared online allegedly showing ballot stuffing.
University of Melbourne Political Science Professor Leslie Holmes predicted the victory last week, saying the results would not come as a surprise.
“He might get the 60 to 65 per cent from those who actually bother to turn out,” he said.
Prof Holmes said nationalism played a big part in Mr Putin’s popularity.
“Putin doesn’t have very strong support, other than in very nationalistic terms.”
The ex-KGB foreign intelligence officer has been in power since 1999, by most reckoning already second only to Joseph Stalin as Russia’s longest-serving leader.
Monash University Social and Political Sciences Associate Professor Peter Lentini said Mr Putin’s corruption record was less than ideal, with many against him disappearing from the public eye.
“It’s significant that people who run afoul of Putin tend to find some corruption in their lives, and they get holed up on some kind of mismanagement,” he said.
Then Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow by an unknown assailant on February 27, 2015, following protests against Russia’s war in Ukraine.
In December last year, the Russian Supreme Court upheld a ban on main opposition leader Alexei Navalny running for president. The ban was implemented following a suspended prison sentence in 2014 for money laundering and fraud.
Of the 70 candidates that applied to run, by election day only eight candidates were officially on the ballot.
Assoc/Prof Lentini attributed Mr Putin’s increase in public support for his role in annexing Crimea.
“Many Russians saw that as Putin getting land that was traditionally Russian,” he said.
“It was land that a lot of Russian soldiers during the Soviet period lost their lives fighting over.”
Mr Putin first entered politics working for the mayor of St Petersburg, before moving to Moscow and eventually becoming prime minister of Russia in August 1999.
When then president Boris Yeltsin stepped down in December 1999, Mr Putin became acting president, and was voted in for his first term in May 2000.
He has effectively remained at the forefront of Russia’s leadership ever since.