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Russia election: Putin wins a landslide

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Russia election: Putin wins a landslide

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Alexander Zemlianichenko/POOL via Reuters
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His victory was no surprise but it was still sweet for Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader has been re-elected with a landslide, credited with three quarters of the votes cast in Sunday's presidential poll.

With just over 70 percent of the votes counted, the Central Election Commission announced that Putin, who has dominated the political landscape for the last 18 years, had won 75.9 percent of the vote.

Claims of ballot rigging didn't dampen celebrations as the 65-year-old took to the stage to address supporters In a victory speech near Red Square.

Putin told a cheering crowd he interpreted the win as a vote of confidence in what he had achieved in tough conditions.

"It's very important to maintain this unity. We will think about the future of our great Motherland," he said, before leading the crowd in repeated chants of "Russia!"

None of the seven candidates who ran against Putin posed a threat, and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was barred from running.

Backed by state TV and the ruling party, Putin's victory was never in doubt. His nearest challenger, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, got around 13 percent, according to partial results, while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got around 6 percent.

At a news conference, Euronews asked Putin about future relations with Europe, amid allegations the Kremlin poisoned an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in England with a Soviet-era nerve agent.

"Russia does not have such (nerve) agents," Putin insisted.

"We destroyed all our chemical weapons under the supervision of international organisations and we did it first, unlike some of our partners who promised to do it but unfortunately did not keep their promises.

"So, we are ready to cooperate. We said that straight away, We are ready to take part in the necessary investigations, but for that there needs to be a desire from the other side, and we don't see that yet. But we are not taking it off the agenda. Joint efforts are possible."

"As a whole, of course," Putin said, "I think any sensible person would understand that it would be rubbish, drivel, nonsense, for Russia to embark on such an escapade on the eve of a presidential election and the Football World Cup. It's just unthinkable."

Turnout figures will be closely scrutinised. Early signs suggested turnout would exceed 60 percent.

Critics claimed officials had compelled people to come to the polls to ensure that voter boredom at the one-sided contest did not lead to a low turnout.

Putin's victory will take his political dominance of Russia to nearly a quarter of a century, until 2024. By that time he will be 71-years-old.

Only Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ruled for longer.

Presidential election results (after 70% of votes counted)