Russia readies to hand Putin new term in presidential vote

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Russia readies to hand Putin new term in presidential vote
Russia readies to hand Putin new term in presidential vote

MOSCOW (AP) – Russian voters, observers and eight presidential candidates are gearing up for an election that will undoubtedly hand Vladimir Putin another six-year term.

The outcome in Sunday’s vote is so certain that authorities are investing in get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a decent turnout.

Candidates are barred from campaigning Saturday. Voting starts in the Russian far east near Alaska and wraps up in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

More than 1,500 international observers are joining thousands of Russian observers to watch the vote. The government wants to ensure elections are clean after ballot stuffing and fraud marred the last presidential election in 2012.

Unlike the last time Putin faced voters, this time he faces no serious opposition movement, and has strengthened his domestic support through his actions in Ukraine and Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking to employees of the Almazov National Medical Center in St.Petersburg, Russia, Friday, March 16, 2018. (Anatoly Maltsev/Pool Photo via AP)
Two election posters reading “Choose President – Choose Future!”, are seen in Moscow downtown, Russia, Friday, March 16, 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Friday’s televised address that “the will of the people, the will of each Russian citizen will determine the path the country will take.” (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A man sets a banner reads “2018 March Election of Russian President” as he prepares a polling station for Sunday’s election in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 16, 2018. There are eight candidates in Sunday’s Russian presidential election, including President Vladimir Putin. With his approval rating topping 80 percent and rivals trailing far behind, Putin is set to easily win a fourth term. Putin’s most vocal critic, the 41-year-old opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race due to a criminal conviction that he calls politically motivated. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
FILE – In this file photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, Russian TV host Ksenia Sobchak speaks about her campaign to challenge Vladimir Putin in the March 18 presidential election, during an interview to the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia. There are eight candidates in Sunday’s Russian presidential election, including President Vladimir Putin. With his approval rating topping 80 percent and rivals trailing far behind, Putin is set to easily win a fourth term. Putin’s most vocal critic, the 41-year-old opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race due to a criminal conviction that he calls politically motivated. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
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