Russians vote as Vladimir Putin seeks tighter grip on power
March 18, 2018
Russians began voting Sunday in a presidential election widely expected to cement President Vladimir Putin’s power for another six years.
Polls first opened in the Far East, and 109 million voters are eligible to cast ballots across the 11 time zones of the world’s biggest country.
It’s an enormous logistical undertaking for a vote that is essentially a one-sided affair. There is no meaningful opposition in the running, and Putin’s fiercest political opponent, Alexei Navalny, has been barred from competing. Despite a lackluster campaign period, the 65-year-old President is the clear front-runner.
Putin is seeking a fourth term as president and is already the country’s longest-serving leader since the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. A win would mean a Putin-led Russia until 2024, after which he is constitutionally obliged to stand down.
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