Incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to secure a landslide victory in the 2018 Russian presidential election. A preliminary result released by the Russian Central Electoral Commission shows that Putin is now leading with over 76.66 percent of the vote. It is well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off. As of 6:36 Moscow Time (3:36 GMT),99.63 percent of ballots had been processed.
An unexpected higher turnout
The Presidential Election this year has seen a relatively higher turnout than this time in 2012. The turnout is currently at 67 percent with 99.63 percent of votes counted, slightly higher than the 65 percent turnout in 2012.
Participation in Russian presidential elections has been declining slowly since they were first held in 1991, when it was well above 74 percent. In 2002, when Putin ran for president, it fell to under 69 percent. Russian experts have explained this trend by saying that ordinary people showed less political activity when their life was stable and secure.
“It is nonsense and absurd to claim that Russia would do anything like that before the elections and the World Cup,” Putin said as he denied that Russia was behind the poisoning of former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Shortly after the preliminary result was announced, Putin talked to reporters at his election campaign HQ about important issues.
Putin explained, “There is no such substances in Russia. we destroyed all our chemical weapons as monitored by international inspectors. We did this first, unlike some of our partners who did not fulfill their promise. We are ready for cooperation.”
It is the first time that he has touched on the issue. But the UK spy poisoning scandal did add a fresh layer to this year’s election.
Moscow said it is open to working with London to investigate the poisoning if the UK is willing. Putin said Russia is ready to cooperate, discuss and overcome any difficulties with London.
The president has promised to boost living standards for ordinary Russians. Personal incomes have been stagnant, although inflation has remained relatively low. The country’s economy is slowly returning to growth after a two-year recession. However, far-reaching reforms in problem areas such as pensions and healthcare are not expected.
Relations overseas, particularly in the West, are tense in the wake of allegations of election-meddling in Europe and the US, cyber-attacks, involvement in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the recent accusation relating to the poisoning of Skripal. Western sanctions remain in place, and the US and UK have added new measures over the past week.