Putin seals fourth presidential term after winning over 73% of votes

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Putin urges high voter turnout ahead of Russian election

Russian President Vladimir Putin has won re-election in a landslide victory, extending his rule over the world's largest country for another six years at a time when his ties with the West are on a hostile trajectory.

Voting ended at 2 p.m. EDT.

None of the seven candidates who ran against him posed a threat, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was barred from running.

Instead, the biggest question as Russians went to the polls on Sunday was the level of turnout.

Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman said on his video blog that local officials and state employees all received orders "from higher up" to make sure the vote turnout was over 60 percent.

Russian cities have been plastered with billboards touting Sunday's election - "Your country, our president, our choice!"

The exit poll findings looked similar to early results from Russia's Far East, where the presidential vote ended eight hours ago. She is the only candidate who has openly criticized Putin. "What for?" said Boris Limarev, a 39-year-old manager, as he walked his dog near a polling station in southwest Saint Petersburg.

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

In the southern city of Tambov, the state-sponsored Youth Parliament backed an Instagram competition.

But the disputes likely worked in Putin's favor, reinforcing the official stance that the West is infected with "Russophobia" and determined to undermine both Putin and traditional Russian values.

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.

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Mr Putin - who was first appointed president in December 1999 - announced weeks before the election that Russian Federation has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.

Bolstered by a slavish state media, he is projected to take around 70 percent of the vote by official pollsters, despite producing no programme and refusing to take part in televised debates.

Ms Kostina said: "Her work asked her to report back". "Last election I didn't vote for Putin, I don't even remember who I voted for".

Kiev has said Russians living in Ukraine would not be able to vote as access to Moscow's diplomatic missions would be blocked.

"No one can tell now just how emotional and radical Putin's actions will be under increasing geopolitical pressure", she told AFP, adding the role of the military and the security service would increase. "The whole thing - the elections today - seems so artificial, I don't want to be a part of it".

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

Vladimir Putin relied on a deep well of support based on two main factors: the huge rise in living standards over his 18 years in office and Russia's triumphant return to the world stage tinged with a resurgent nationalism and a feeling that the world is ganging up on Russian Federation.

Many of those who cast their ballots voted for Putin, praising him for lifting the country out of the post-Soviet quagmire.

Pamfilova said the attack originated from 15 countries. "He showed that our team is the good one".

Crimea and Russia's subsequent support of separatists in eastern Ukraine led to an array of USA and European sanctions that, along with falling oil prices, damaged the Russian economy and slashed the ruble's value by half.

"I think that what we accomplished was a greater political success than what any of those fake candidates were able to do", he told The Moscow Times during a press briefing.

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