According to preliminary results, Vladimir Putin will be re-elected for a fifth term in Russia

This is a record for Putin, who received between 64 and 68 percent of the vote in the previous elections.

The offensive in Ukraine, which Putin launched in February 2022 and which has no end in sight despite tens of thousands of deaths, formed the backdrop for the vote, particularly given a surge in attacks on Russian territory this week.

The Kremlin presented the elections as an opportunity for Russians to express their support for the offensive in Ukraine.

After the first results were announced, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky estimated that Vladimir Putin was “drunk with power” and wanted to “rule forever.”

Poland believed that the Russian presidential elections were “neither legal, free nor fair.”

The other three candidates in the race took the same line as the Kremlin, whether on Ukraine or the repression that culminated in the death of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s main opponent, in an Arctic prison in February.

Navalni’s supporters called on voters to come to the polling stations in a coordinated manner at midday.

Some responded to the call in Moscow, telling AFP that they came to honor Navalny’s memory and express their opposition in the only legal way.

“I wrote to Navalny.”

Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, who voted at the Russian embassy in Moscow, claimed she wrote her late husband’s name on her ballot.

“Of course I wrote ‘Navalni’ because it cannot be that a month before the elections Putin’s main opponent, who was already in prison, was murdered,” Navalnaya told the press.

In the rest of the world, queues also formed in front of embassies Russiawith particularly large crowds in Paris and Berlin, where tens of thousands of Russians live in exile.

Leonid Volkov, a close aide to Navalni, thanked those who had shown their resistance. “The world has seen you. Russia is not Putin, Russia is you,” he wrote on X.

However, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova presented the long lines outside embassies as evidence of support for the Kremlin.

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“If the people standing in line (…) had taken part in the ‘lunchtime’ action, they would have dispersed after midday. But no,” he wrote on social media.

In Russia, some voters showed their support for Putin.

“What we want above all today is peace,” said Lyubov Piankova, an 80-year-old pensioner who went to vote in Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg.

Those who think differently are punished.

Overall, the opposition’s actions were calm, but the specialized NGO OVD-Info reported at least 74 arrests for various forms of electoral protest.

Public dissent has been harshly punished in Russia since the offensive against Ukraine began, and authorities have warned against election protests.

Meanwhile, Ukraine continued its bombing campaign, striking at least eight regions overnight and on Sunday morning, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Three airports in the capital briefly suspended operations after the bombing and a drone strike in the south caused a fire at an oil refinery.

In Belgorod, a city near the border with Ukraine, two people – a man and a 16-year-old girl – were killed and 12 injured in separate Ukrainian bombings on Sunday, according to the region’s governor.

And in the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, where elections are also taking place, drones set fire to a polling station, according to authorities deployed by Moscow.

“Hard time.”

Putin, a 71-year-old former KGB agent, has been in power since the last day of 1999.

If he had completed a new term, he would have remained in power longer than any other Russian leader since Catherine the Great in the 18th century.

He had no real opponents in the elections after excluding two candidates who opposed the conflict in Ukraine.

Putin admitted in a pre-election message on Thursday that Russia was going through a “difficult period.” “We must move forward united and confident,” he said.


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