VLADIMIR Putin,65, has been re-elected President with a mandate to lead Russia for another six years after achieving a massive victory in Sunday’s presidential election. Putin, born to humble parents in Saint Petersburg, has ruled the country first as Prime Minister and then President since 1999.He is playing an assertive role in international affairs. He polled more than 76 per cent votes. He will remain in office until at least 2024. He has spent years to re-establish Russia’s prominence as a world power and adopted an aggressive approach to annexe part of eastern Ukraine, and help Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad retain his hold on power despite years of brutal fighting, alleged his critics at home and abroad. The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race. Putin’s campaign team said it was an “incredible victory”. With ballots from 80 percent of Russia’s precincts counted by early Monday, Putin has received 76 percent of the vote. Observers and individual voters reported widespread violations including ballot-box stuffing and forced voting, but the claims are unlikely to dilute the power of Russia’s longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin, says ABC News. As the embodiment of Russia’s resurgent power on the world stage, Putin commands immense loyalty among Russians. More than 30,000 crowded into Manezh Square adjacent to the Kremlin in temperatures of minus 10 (15 Fahrenheit) for a victory concert and to await his words, the American TV channel reported on Monday morning. A jubilant Putin said voters have “acknowledged the achievements of the last few years” made in Russia under his presidency. Speaking to reporters after the results were announced, he laughed off a question whether he would contest again after the upcoming tenure for six years ends.”What you are saying is a bit funny. Do you think that I will stay here until I’m 100 years old? No!” he said. His share of the vote in 2012 was 64 per cent compared to 76 per cent plus per cent as of now. Putin’s nearest competitor, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, polled about 12 per cent, said official sources. Among other in the race were Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV host, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. They received less than 2 per cent and 6 per cent votes respectively. “The percentage of votes that we have just seen speaks for itself. It’s a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make,” a spokesman told Russia’s Interfax.American media says video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russia. Several showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers. Navalny was excluded from the election because of an embezzlement conviction that he said was manufactured by the Kremlin. Reacting to the results of the presidential poll, Navalny indicated he had been unable to contain his anger.”Now is the season of Lent. I took it upon myself never to get angry and not to raise my voice. Oh well, I’ll try again next year,” he tweeted. During polling day, independent election monitoring group Golos reported hundreds of irregularities, BBC says .
After election, he denied the allegation on his involvement in the poising of ex-Russian spy in the United Kingdom and added “I am for strengthening relations with the UK”.