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No surprise

No surprise
Highlights

The inevitable is official now. Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years after securing an expected victory in the presidential election. The scale of victory - he polled 76 per cent of the votes - appears to be a marked increase from 2012, when he had got 64 per cent.

The inevitable is official now. Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years after securing an expected victory in the presidential election. The scale of victory - he polled 76 per cent of the votes - appears to be a marked increase from 2012, when he had got 64 per cent. Whether one agrees with Putin and his methods or not and decry the elections as a mere hogwash with the most prominent opposition leader banned from contesting, it is undeniable that Putin is here, now and, possibly, forever, almost like Xi of China.

Well, individual preferences apart, Vladimir Putin rolled to a crushing re-election victory Sunday for six more years. There had been no doubt that he would win in his fourth electoral contest. He faced seven minor candidates and his most prominent foe was blocked from the contest. The only real challenge was to run up the tally so high that he could claim an indisputable mandate.

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 Joseph Stalin. 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 degrees for a victory rally and to hear him out. Of course, Putin reacted differently to the suggestion from media on whether he would stay on for long asking whether people expected his rule till he turned 100 or so. But, then he has no intention of quitting office any sooner, is evident by his strong-arm tactics and what he is planning to achieve individually in the office.

Allegations of unprecedented pressure on voters to turn out and incidents of suspected ballot box stuffing notwithstanding, he remained calm in blocking his critics. Farce or not, millions of Russians treat him as an icon for defending their proud nation from hostile outside world. It could be said even Donald Trump could have strengthened his hands indirectly with all those allegations of Russian roulette in the US presidential elections.

Putin needed this profound and emboldening massive victory into this fourth term. It is already being debated whether he would go the China way beyond 2024 by abolishing term limits or by shifting into another position transferring all powers to the same. Putin had come a long way dominating at home and feared abroad. Before him, Russia had become irrelevant, but not any longer. Trump may not make America great again due to his dilly dallying and confused policies.

But, Putin has clearer hooks and he does not fear others. There in, perhaps, lies the resurgent story of Russia in near future. Moreover, Russia is arming itself to the teeth with the latest in weaponry. However, ordinary Russians are dissatisfied with their lives and drastic reforms are needed. He has to focus more on the economy which will be his greatest challenge.

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