On Sunday March 18, Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia for his second consecutive term and fourth overall since 1999. Putin ran as an Independent party candidate and received a staggering 76 percent of votes.
Putin served his first and second terms from 2000–2008, after which he was constitutionally barred from serving a third term. Dmitry Medvedev became president and later appointed Putin prime minister.
“In 2012, a constitutional amendment extended presidential term lengths from four to six years,” as reported by TIME. With this new law, Russia’s next presidential election will be in 2024.
In an NBC interview with Megyn Kelley, Putin was asked if he plans to abolish term limits like what has happened in China with President Xi Jinping. “I never changed the constitution or adjusted it to my needs, and I do not have any such plans today,” he replied.
However, according to the Associated Press, voter fraud was widespread, including forced voting and ballot box stuffing. Additionally, CCTV cameras were sometimes obscured by inanimate objects from watching ballot boxes, ballot numbers experienced discrepancies, and one polling station even advertised a pro-Putin sign.
Putin’s main competition, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running after being convicted of fraud in a case considered politically motivated. Putin’s seven other opponents were considered relatively minor.
Vitaly T. Tretyakov, a dean at Lomonosov Moscow State University, gave his opinion about Putin in The New York Times. “He is a strong politician, a strong president, who led Russia to rebirth.” Putin’s election campaign slogan this year was “Strong President, Strong Russia.”
“Putin’s electoral power has centered on stability, a quality cherished by Russians after the chaotic breakup of the Soviet Union and the so called wild capitalism of the Yeltsin years,” wrote an AP reporter. Yeltsin was president the first president since the fall of the Soviet Union, serving from 1991–1999.