Vladimir Putin claims victory in Russian election

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses a rally near the Kremlin in Moscow on Sunday

Russians overwhelmingly extended Vladimir Putin's presidential reign another six years, according to exit polls Sunday night.

Putin's main challenge in the vote was to obtain a huge margin of victory in order to claim an indisputable mandate.

Members of a local election commission empty a ballot box before starting to count votes during the presidential election in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia, on March 18, 2018.

His nearest rival, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, won 11.8 percent while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 5.6 percent.

Election officials said efforts to encourage a higher turnout are in line with the law. Voting will conclude at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT; 2 p.m. EDT) in Kaliningrad, the Baltic exclave that is Russia's westernmost region, and initial results are expected soon afterward. We could expect a show of force from Putin any time to demonstrate his capability to wreak havoc, similar to his shutting off the lights in Ukraine in 2015 - and then, of course, denying it.

Cybersecurity - penchant for penetration: With the news that Russian Federation targeted American and European nuclear power plants and energy and water systems, we have one more indication that Putin views all infrastructure - whether election related or otherwise - as free for the taking.

The Kremlin was relying on millions of budzhetniki: workers from state factories, army and schoolteachers who receive their salaries from the government. For older voters, Moscow health authorities will be offering free cancer screenings at selected polling stations.

While the move has made it easier for Putin, who's the clear favourite now, Navalny has called for a boycott of the election.

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Election officials flew to far-flung regions to collect votes from indigenous herders, while cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov - the only Russian now aboard the International Space Station - cast his ballot by proxy. Also, Russian citizens will also be able to cast their ballots in 145 countries, including Israel.

Many voters said they were under pressure from their employers to vote.

"People were indignant at first, said: "They're violating our rights". but what can you do?" she said at a cafe Saturday.

Civic Chamber's website observing the election at one time was down and commission's website was also attacked soon after voting began.

Putin, who has been accused of interfering with the USA presidential election in 2016, voted at a polling station in central Moscow on a bitterly cold but sunny morning.

Putin recorded his best election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote.

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Among Putin's challengers is Ksenia Sobchak, a 36-year-old TV host who has campaigned on a liberal platform and criticized Putin's policies.

"Ahead is either passing power to a prepared successor or redoing the Constitution to preserve personal power", it wrote, saying that Putin faces "risks ahead". Because of term limits, he became prime minister in 2008 and returned as president in 2012.

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