Putin claims win in Russia's election to extend rule for 6 years

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron denounced the election, saying 'this is not what free and fair elections look like'.

Just standing in a queue at a polling station became an act of protest and of solidarity in Russia

Vladimir Putin has claimed his win in Russia’s election, to extend his rule as President for six more years.

Early results on Sunday night showed the Russian president – who has ruled for nearly a quarter of a century – won nearly 88% of the vote.

Putin hailed his win as an indication of “trust” and “hope” in him.

The three-day election, which began Friday, took place in a tightly controlled environment where no public criticism of Putin or his war in Ukraine is allowed.

Putin’s fiercest political foe, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison last month, and other critics are either in jail or in exile.

Putin addressed his supporters shortly after his victory was confirmed

The 71-year-old Russian leader faced three token rivals from Kremlin-friendly parties who have refrained from any criticism of his 24-year rule or his full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron tweeted: “The polls have closed in Russia, following the illegal holding of elections on Ukrainian territory, a lack of choice for voters and no independent OSCE monitoring.

“This is not what free and fair elections look like.”

Mr Shapps said: “Putin has stolen another election, but he will not steal Ukraine.

“The UK will work with our allies to stop this thief by increasing our collective support for Ukraine.

“As history shows, we have to stop dictators and autocrats, or they go on to steal even more.”

Alexei Navalny with his wife Yulia after a rally in Moscow in 2013. / Credit: AP

Russian nationals living in the UK took to polling stations on Sunday to spoil presidential election ballots in protest against Mr Putin.

The Russian Democratic Society – described as a community of Russian immigrants in the UK – organised a Noon Against Putin demonstration outside the Russian embassy in London.

It came as associates of Mr Navalny urged people across Russia to protest by crowding near polling stations at noon on Sunday.

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