Spy poisoning: May says state-sponsored attacks unacceptable

Frederick Owens
March 19, 2018

With Putin guaranteed to win another term despite facing seven challengers, authorities are conducting get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a good turnout. Since first being elected as president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on Russian Federation muzzling opposition and reasserting Moscow's lost might overseas.

Polling at around 70 per cent, the macho leader is sure to extend his term to 2024 despite a lacklustre campaign ahead of a summer when global attention will be glued to Russian Federation as it hosts the football World Cup.

Putin used the election run-up to emphasise Russia's role as a major world power and recently he extended support to the Syrian regime in a bloody civil war.

Britain on Saturday said it had "anticipated" the tit-for-tat expulsion of its diplomats from Moscow over the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil.

The doctor, who gave her name only as Yekaterina because of fears about repercussions, said she and her co-workers were told to fill out forms detailing not only where they would cast their ballots, but giving the names and details of two "allies" whom they promise to persuade to go vote.

Mr Putin has cast his country as a fortress besieged by hostile Western powers with him as its defender, and state media is likely to portray the anti-British move in that context.

However, Russians living in Ukraine will not be allowed to participate, after the Ukrainian government barred them from visiting Moscow's diplomatic delegations because it considers Russia to be an "aggressor" and has dismissed its elections as "illegal".

In Moscow, first-time voters will be given free tickets for pop concerts featuring some of Russia's most popular artists who have campaigned for Putin.

His rivals include a millionaire communist, Pavel Grudinin, a former reality television host, Ksenia Sobchak and the veteran nationalist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

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Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who has been barred from standing against Putin in today's presidential election, complained that Britain's response had been "more than disappointing".

The Kremlin needs a high turnout to add greater legitimacy to a new term for Putin, who is already Russia's longest serving leader since Joseph Stalin.

Putin himself has yet to make a public comment on the incident aside from one remark to a BBC reporter earlier this week in which he said: "Sort things out from your side and then we will discuss this with you".

The Associated Press viewed messages sent Friday to multiple regional employees, urging them to fulfill their civic duty and report on when and where they voted.

Election observers and local media have reported threats and coercion of voters to re-register at their place of work and report later that they have voted.

There has been a particular focus on the youth vote, with prizes offered for the best selfies taken at polling stations and a sexually charged online campaign that brands the election as "for adults only".

Meanwhile, students in several cities have been warned they may face problems in examinations or even expulsion if they do not turn out to vote, according to liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

British police said there is no apparent link between the attack on Glushkov and the poisoning of the Skripals, but both have raised alarm in the West at a time when Russian Federation is increasingly assertive on the global stage and facing investigations over alleged interference in the Donald Trump's election as USA president.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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