Putin leads presidential elections in Russian Federation

People cast their ballots at a polling station in Yelizovo about 30 kilometres north-east from

Vladimir Putin wins Russia's presidential election, exit polls suggest

Putin also served as the Prime Minister of Russian Federation from 2008 to 2012.

The exit poll by the All-Russia Opinion Research Center reflect early results from Russia's Far East. Mr Putin's campaign had hoped for a large turnout, to give him the strongest possible mandate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday laughed off a question about whether he would run for another term in office after 2024.

Critics denounced the hardman's use of intimidation to minimise opposition.

A doctor at one of the city's hospitals told The Associated Press how one kind of voting pressure works.

"It's not something you can argue about", she said at a cafe Saturday.

Key rival Alexei Navlny, who had been seen as Putin's biggest rival, was barred from standing due to "corruption charges". Billboards and public-service announcements also reminded eligible voters to go to the polls. Putin had faced a serious opposition movement then but has since boosted his popularity with Russia's actions in Ukraine and Syria.

Some 145,000 observers monitored Sunday's vote, including 1,500 foreigners, and they and ordinary Russians reported hundreds of problems. The government wants to ensure that this election is clean after ballot stuffing and fraud marred the last Russian presidential election in 2012.

"But the answer was easy. if I want to keep working, I vote", he said.

Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats in spy attack row
The representatives of Russia's Foreign Ministry added that the British Council is not anymore functioning in Russian Federation . Britain's foreign secretary accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of personally ordering the poisoning.

In the meantime, the presidential election was held at three polling stations in Serbia with a record high voter turnout, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Chepurin said. He said: "It's really important to attract those who voted for other candidates".

The Russian leader's popularity remains high despite his suppression of dissent and reproach from the West over Russia's increasingly aggressive stance in world affairs and alleged interference in the 2016 US election. In Moscow alone, authorities are spending 50 million rubles ($870,000) on balloons and festive decorations at polling stations. "Who else?" asked Putin supporter Andrei Borisov, 70, a retired engineer in Moscow.

In some areas, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer near polling stations.

In the southern city of Tambov, the state-sponsored Youth Parliament has backed an Instagram competition. Voters who took selfies at polling stations could enter a raffle for high-end electronics, including an iPhone X.

Chairwoman of the Central Electoral Commission Ella Pamfilova said that the preliminary outcome of the election will be known by 2-3 a.m.

Voters in Russia's Perm region said they were coming under pressure from their employers to vote Sunday - and to prove it. Messages were sent Friday to regional employees, warning that information about their voting habits would be submitted to management.

During the campaign, Putin traveled across Russian Federation pledging to raise wages, spend more on the country's crumbling health care and education and modernize Russia's dilapidated infrastructure.

The election took place on the fourth anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, one of the most dramatic manifestations of Putin's drive to reassert Russia's power.

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 seven percent. 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. Mr Navalny had urged a boycott.

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