Putin calls for Russian unity after landslide election victory

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  March 19, 2018 at 8:09 AM
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March 19 (UPI) -- With the official tally Monday showing he was re-elected by more than three-quarters of Russian voters, President Vladimir Putin spoke to supporters at the Kremlin about moving forward with unity.

Putin won another six years as Russia's president Sunday. The Central Election Commission said Monday he garnered more than 76 percent of the vote.

Putin's nearest challenger, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, received just 12 percent -- the party's worst showing in the post-Soviet era. Seven other candidates also ran.

Putin received more than 56 million votes, more than any candidate in Russia's seven presidential campaigns since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. He received 92 percent of the vote in Crimea, the region Russia controversially annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

"It's very important to maintain this unity. We will think about the future of our great Motherland," Putin told a cheering crowd in Moscow's Red Square Sunday night.

Although the election commission acknowledged complaints of ballot-stuffing and reports that voters were pressured by their employers to vote, it said it's received half as many reported violations this year than in the last presidential election in 2012.

Taking questions from the press after he was officially confirmed the winner, Putin offered his "gratitude to the voters for their choice, for the trust they have placed in me."

"Gratitude for their assessment of our work in these past years and for the hope they have so clearly demonstrated that we will continue working, that our expanded team and I, their humble servant, will continue working as hard as before and that we will achieve even better results," he added. "We have every chance to achieve great practical results."

Putin was also asked about the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain earlier this month.

"Russia does not have such chemical agents. We destroyed all our chemical weapons, and international observers monitored the destruction process," he said. "Moreover, we were the first to do this, unlike some of our partners who promised to destroy their chemical weapons but have not done so to this day, regrettably."

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