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Putin Wins Russian Presidential Election With 87.97% Of The Vote

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Vladimir Putin was headed for another six-year term as Russian president Sunday, exit polls showed, paving the way for the hardline former spy to become the longest-serving Russian leader in more than 200 years.

Victory for the 71-year-old in the three-day vote was never in doubt, with all his major opponents dead, in prison or exiled, and authorities waging an unrelenting crackdown on those who publicly oppose the Kremlin or its military offensive on Ukraine.

The government-run VTsIOM pollster projected Putin had won the election with 87 percent of the vote after polls closed in Russia’s western-most region of Kaliningrad at 1700 GMT.

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The highly-touted election was marked by a surge in deadly Ukrainian bombardments, incursions into Russian territory by pro-Kyiv sabotage groups and vandalism at polling stations.

The Kremlin cast the election as an opportunity for Russians to throw their weight behind the full-scale military operation in Ukraine, where voting is also being staged in Russian-controlled territories.

READ ALSO: Tracing Putin’s 25-year Reign As Russians Vote

Kyiv slammed the vote as a sham and President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Putin as a “dictator” who was “drunk from power”.

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“There is no evil he will not commit to prolong his personal power,” Zelensky said in a message on social media.

– Opposition dismisses vote –

Allies of the late Alexei Navalny — Putin’s most prominent rival, who died in an Arctic prison last month — has urged voters to flood polling stations at noon and spoil their ballots for a “Midday Against Putin” protest.

His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was greeted by supporters with flowers and applause in Berlin. She said she had written her late husband’s name on her ballot after voting at the Russian embassy.

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Some voters in Moscow appeared to heed Navalny’s call, telling AFP they had come to honour his memory and show their opposition in the only legal way possible.

READ ALSO: Putin Revokes Russia’s Ratification Of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

“I came to show that there are many of us, that we exist, that we are not some insignificant minority,” said 19-year-old student Artem Minasyan at a polling station in central Moscow.

Leonid Volkov, a senior aide to the late opposition leader who was recently attacked in Lithuania where he fled political persecution in Russia, dismissed the results published by Moscow.

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“The percentages drawn for Putin have, of course, not the slightest relation to reality,” Volkov, Navalny’s former chief of staff wrote on social media.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, argued the long lines outside embassies abroad were evidence of support for the Kremlin.

If the people queueing abroad to vote in the Russian presidential election had taken part in the ‘noon’ action, they would have all dispersed after noon. But no,” she wrote on social media.

READ ALSO: Tinubu Appoints New Executive Secretary For Almajiri Commission

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– Tributes to Navalny –

At Navalny’s grave in a Moscow cemetery, AFP reporters saw spoiled ballot papers with his name scrawled across them on a pile of flowers.

Navalny, who galvanised mass protests, tried to run against Putin in the 2018 presidential election and toured Russia to drum up support, but his candidacy was rejected.

We live in a country where we will go to jail if we speak our mind. So when I come to moments like this and see a lot of people, I realise that we are not alone,” said 33-year-old Regina.

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There were repeated acts of protest in the first days of polling, with a spate of arrests of Russians accused of pouring dye into ballot boxes or arson attacks.

Any public dissent in Russia has been harshly punished since the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and there were repeated warnings from the authorities against election protests.

READ ALSO: UK Announces New Russia Sanctions

The OVD-Info police monitoring group announced that at least 80 people had been detained across nearly 20 cities in Russia for protest actions linked to the elections.

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The surge in Ukrainian strikes on Russia continued unabated with the Russian defence ministry reporting at least eight regions attacked overnight and on Sunday morning.

– Fatal border attacks –

Three airports serving the capital briefly suspended operations following the barrage, while a drone attack in the south sparked a fire at an oil refinery.

In Russia’s border city of Belgorod, multiple rounds of shelling killed two — a man and a 16-year-old girl — and wounded 12 more, the region’s governor said Sunday.

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The governor has ordered the closure of shopping centres and schools in Belgorod and the surrounding area for two days because of the strikes.

In the Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, where voting is also taking place, “kamikaze drones” set a polling station ablaze, according to the Moscow-installed authorities.

– ‘Difficult period’ –

Putin, a former KGB agent, has been in power since the last day of 1999 and is set to extend his grip over the country until at least 2030.

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If he completes another Kremlin term, he will have stayed in power longer than any Russian leader since Catherine the Great in the 18th century.

In a pre-election address Putin said Russia was going through a “difficult period” and called on the country to be “united and self-confident.”

A concert on Red Square is being staged on Monday to mark 10 years since Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula — an event that is also expected to serve as a victory celebration for Putin.

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Three Nigerians sentenced To 235 Years In US Prison

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A court in Mississippi, United States of America has sentenced three Nigerians to 235 years in prison.

The jury found all the three personguilty of mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud and theft of government property.

Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison, while Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, got 115 years jail term.

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READ ALSO: Applicants Decry N640,000 UAE Visa Fee Hike

Also, Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, received 25 years in jail.

They were convicted for running online scams.

They were said to have duped people of tens of millions of dollars.

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Deadly Blaze Kills Even In France

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An apartment building blaze early Thursday killed seven people in the southern French city of Nice and police were investigating the fire as a possible arson, authorities said.

The dead include three children – 5, 7 and 10 years old – and a 17-year-old teenager who tried to escape by jumping from a window, they said.

The apartment was occupied by a family believed to have Comoran origins, the regional prefect Hugues Moutouh said, referring to the southern African island nature.

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Ten people were inside when the fire broke out.

Rescuers were alerted at around 2:30 am (0030 GMT) to the blaze on the seventh floor of the building in the low-income neighbourhood of Les Moulins, known for being a drug-dealing hub, in the west of the city.

READ ALSO: 100-year-old WWII Veteran Returns To Normandy Beach In France To Marry 96-year-old Bride[PHOTOS]

In spite of the substantial resources deployed, “unfortunately seven people died during this fire”, firefighters said.

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Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on social media that the quick arrival of firefighters “probably prevented more deaths”.

Nice prosecutor Damien Martinelli said investigators were looking into a “criminal” cause for the fire.

“In light of the initial evidence, I have opened an investigation into acts of arson leading to death,” he told reporters at the scene.

The authorities said the blaze probably broke out on the building’s second floor and spread to higher floors.

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READ ALSO: Seven Sentenced To Life Imprisonment In S’Africa For B*rning Two Sisters To D@ath Over Alleged Witchcraft

Rescuers said that three people were taken to hospital, one of them with life-threatening injuries.

They said firefighters were confronted by a “raging apartment fire” on the seventh floor of the building. They carried out three aerial ladder rescues and evacuated dozens.

In total, 25 fire engines and 72 firefighters tackled the fire.

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Twenty people were evacuated to a temporary shelter, with Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi saying a crisis unit to help anyone affected by the fire.

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Biden Speaks Of Quitting Presidential Race If…

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US President Joe Biden said he could drop his reelection bid if doctors found he had a medical condition, as a top Democrat on Wednesday urged the 81-year-old to step aside.

Biden’s comments were the first time he has even slightly opened the door to abandoning the White House race, and came as Representative Adam Schiff, a key ally from California, urged Biden to “pass the torch.”

“If I had some medical condition that emerged, if somebody, if the doctors came and said ‘you’ve got this problem, that problem,’” Biden told the Black media outlet BET in an interview taped Tuesday, when asked what could make him rethink.

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Biden however defended his decision to stay on for a rematch with Republican Donald Trump in November, and explained why he had not handed over to a younger generation after one term.

READ ALSO: Biden Falters In Fiery Debate With Trump

“I said I was going to be a transitional candidate, and I thought I’d be able to move on from this, pass it on to someone else,” he said. “But I didn’t anticipate things getting so, so, so divided.”

Biden has been fighting for political survival since a disastrous debate against Trump nearly three weeks ago, in which his tired and confused appearance sparked concerns about his age.

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Schiff became the first Democrat to call for him to step aside since the assassination attempt against Trump on Saturday, which had briefly silenced the growing chorus against Biden.

READ ALSO: Russian Oil Depot Gutted By Fire After Ukrainian Drone Attack

A second Trump presidency will undermine the very foundation of our democracy, and I have serious concerns about whether the President can defeat Donald Trump in November,” Schiff said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Schiff, who is expected to win a Senate seat this November, is a key White House ally in the legislature and shot to nationwide prominence as lead prosecutor during then-president Trump’s first impeachment trial.

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Biden was set to make a fresh attempt to prop up his candidacy in a speech to crucial Latino voters in the battleground state of Nevada later Wednesday.

– ‘Pretty damn good’ –

Around 20 House Democrats and one senator have now called on Biden to leave the White House race but Biden has refused, insisting he is best placed to beat Trump.

READ ALSO: Ex-Rep Rejects Membership Of Edo APC Gov Campaign Council

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Biden, Trump agree to election debates in June, September
Most polls show Biden trailing in a tight race, with Trump pulling ahead in key swing states but no dramatic movement since the debate debacle or shooting.

Biden said his mental acuity was “pretty damn good” in an NBC interview on Monday, one of a series of unscripted outings aimed at showing he has what it takes.

With pressure on Biden mounting, Democrats said on Wednesday they plan a virtual nomination for the president in the first week of August, ahead of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on August 19.

Some Democrats have slammed the scheme, accusing the party of trying to ram through Biden’s candidacy and avoid a full discussion of alternative choices.

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Party chiefs say they need to carry out the virtual roll-call by August 7, which is the deadline set by the Republican-led state of Ohio for the submission of nominations.

Biden otherwise risks not being on the ballot in Ohio, the home state of Trump’s new running mate J.D. Vance.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Rema Performs ‘Calm Down’ At Indian Billionaire Ambani’s Son Wedding

While Ohio’s governor has signed a law giving Biden more time, the DNC said it feared further legal challenges.

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“None of this will be rushed,” the heads of the DNC’s rules committee said in a letter to lawmakers obtained by AFP. “No matter what may be reported, our goal is not to fast-track.”

But several lawmakers are planning to sign a letter against the virtual nomination plan and others have criticized it, according to US media.

Biden insists that Democratic voters support him, but a poll by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said Wednesday that nearly two-thirds want him to step aside.

 

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