Russian election underway to give Putin six more years in power

None of other three candidates on the ballot paper presents any credible challenge to 71-year-old president.

YAKUTSK (Reuters): Russians cast their ballots across the country’s 11 time zones on Friday, the start of a three-day election that is almost certain to hand Vladimir Putin six more years at the helm of the world’s biggest nuclear power.
Amid the Ukraine war, the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, the 71-year-old Kremlin chief dominates Russia’s political landscape and none of the other three candidates on the ballot paper presents any credible challenge.
The Kremlin says Putin, in power as president or prime minister since the last day of 1999, will win as he commands broad support for rescuing Russia from post-Soviet chaos and standing up to what it says is an arrogant, hostile West.
From Chukotka on the Pacific 6,300 km (3,900 miles) away from Moscow to the Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea bordering Poland, some of Russia’s more than 190 ethnic groups turned out to vote in national costume.
In Yakutsk, an eastern Siberian city where the temperature was minus 18 degrees Celsius, the descendent of a Yukaghir shaman asked spirits to bring good luck to the winner of the election during a ceremony at one polling station. In other Russian cities, one woman dressed up as Barbie and another came to a polling station dressed in a tiger outfit.
But the shadow of the Ukraine war hangs over the election: Russia has more than 1 million men in arms and several hundred thousand fighting a grinding artillery and drone war along the 1,000 km (600 mile) front line in Ukraine.

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