Putin wins fourth term as Russian president with apparent landslide vote

The result came amid allegations of election violations

Putin wins fourth term as Russian president with apparent landslide vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin waves after speaking to supporters during a rally near the Kremlin in Moscow | Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP/Press Association Images

Vladimir Putin has swept to a landslide victory to secure a fourth term as Russian president, keeping him in power for six more years.

In a widely expected outcome, Mr Putin won more than 75% of the vote with three quarters of ballots counted, the Central Election Commission said.

The result came amid allegations of election violations including ballot-box stuffing and forced voting.

Addressing a crowd near Moscow's Red Square, Mr Putin said his victory was a vote of confidence in his achievements.

"It's very important to maintain this unity," he said.

"We will think about the future of our great Motherland," he said, before leading the crowd in repeated chants of "Russia!"

Asked later if he could seek the presidency again in 2030, Mr Putin replied: "It's ridiculous. Do you think I will sit here until I turn 100?"

Photo shows a screen updating the votes of Russia's incumbent President Vladimir Putin at a press conference of the Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) in Moscow | Image: Bai Xueqi/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Mr Putin's nearest challenger, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, secured around 13% of the vote, according to partial results, while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky received around 6%.

Mr Putin's most well-known opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was rejected as a candidate because he was convicted of fraud in a case widely regarded as politically motivated.

The vote was tainted by allegations of forced voting and election violations, as footage released by a government opposition group appeared to show ballot boxes being stuffed.

The presidential election came amid escalating tensions between Russia and the west, with Mr Putin addressing the Salisbury spy poisoning for the first time publicly as the results came in.

Britain has blamed the Kremlin for the nerve-agent poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, prompting the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats.

Meanwhile, the US has imposed sanctions on 19 Russians for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

There also been criticism from the west of Russia's military support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

The election took place on the fourth anniversary of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, which led to an array of US and European sanctions.

Mr Putin - who was first appointed president in December 1999 - did not run in 2008 because of term limits, but was appointed prime minister, a role in which he was widely seen as leader.

He announced weeks before the election that Russia has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.