NEWSWATCH: “Putin thanks nation for re-election, promises ‘breakthrough'” – AP

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… the Central Election Commission officially declared [Putin] the winner … with nearly 77 percent of the vote … on track to become the nation’s longest-serving leader since … Stalin. … Putin’s most serious rival … Navalny, was barred from the race because of a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated. Observers reported numerous incidents of ballot stuffing and unprecedented pressure on Russians to vote to raise the turnout that topped 67 percent. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that the Russian state media’s extensive coverage of Putin’s activities gave him a significant advantage ….”

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