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Vladimir Putin Wins Russia Election With Landslide

Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after securing an expected victory in Sunday's presidential election.

Mr Putin, who has ruled the country as either president or prime minister since 1999, got more than 76% of the vote, official results show.

The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.

Addressing a rally in Moscow, Mr Putin said voters had "recognised the achievements of the last few years".

Speaking to reporters after the results were announced, he laughed off a question about running again in another six years.

"What you are saying is a bit funny. Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old? No!" he said.

The scale of victory - which had been widely predicted - appears to be a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64%.

Mr Putin's nearest competitor, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, received about 12%.

The race also included Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV host, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky - they got less than 2% and about 6% respectively.

Mr Putin's campaign team said it was an "incredible victory".

"The percentage that we have just seen speaks for itself. It's a mandate which Putin needs for future decisions, and he has a lot of them to make," a spokesman told Russia's Interfax.

In some areas, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer near polling stations.

Video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russia. Several showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers.

Mr Navalny was excluded from the election because of an embezzlement conviction that he said was manufactured by the Kremlin.

In his first reaction to the news, Mr Navalny indicated he had been unable to contain his anger.

"Now is the season of Lent. I took it upon myself never to get angry and not to raise my voice. Oh well, I'll try again next year," he tweeted.

During polling day, independent election monitoring group Golos reported hundreds of irregularities, including: Voting papers found in some ballot boxes before polls opened, Observers were barred from entering some polling stations, Some people were bussed in amid suspicion of forced voting, Webcams at polling stations were obstructed by balloons and other obstacles

In Dagestan, one election official said he was prevented from doing his job by a crowd of men who blocked the ballot box.

But Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, said there was no serious violations

"We have analysed and monitored everything we could, everything that has arrived. Thank goodness, it's all rather modest so far," she told a commission meeting while speaking about violations.

She had earlier said that anyone involved in violations would be caught.

Sunday's vote was also the first in Crimea since Russia seized the region from Ukraine. Mr Putin's victory rally coincided with the anniversary of the annexation.

The annexation was bitterly contested by Kiev and ratcheted up tensions between Russia and the West. Russians living in Ukraine were unable to take part in Sunday's vote because access to Russian diplomatic missions was blocked by the Kiev government.

Russia's Putin Wins Another Six-Year Term

Russian President Vladimir Putin won a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, extending his rule over the world’s largest country for another six years at a time when his ties with the West are on a hostile trajectory.

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Ex-FBI Chief Gives Notes To Russia Inquiry

Ex-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has given memos about conversations he had with President Donald Trump to an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, US media say.

They say the memos could support allegations that the president sought to obstruct justice.

Mr McCabe was fired from the FBI on Friday following an internal inquiry. Mr Trump had accused him of bias.

The president has also dismissed the Russia investigation as a "witch hunt".

The investigation is led by special counsel Robert Mueller, himself a former FBI director. He has so far indicted 19 people.

Also on Saturday, the president's lawyer John Dowd issued a statement saying it was time for the special counsel's investigation to end.

Mr McCabe had been under internal investigation by the FBI and had already stepped down from his deputy post in January pending the review.

He was sacked just two days short of his 50 birthday on Sunday, when he was expected to retire with a federal pension.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the "extensive and fair investigation" had concluded that Mr McCabe "made an unauthorised disclosure to the news media and lacked candour - including under oath - on multiple occasions".

Although the decision to fire Mr McCabe was made by Mr Sessions, Mr Trump had criticised him for months.

He has publicly pointed to donations that Mr McCabe's wife, a Democrat, received from a Clinton ally when she ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2015 as evidence that Mr McCabe was politically biased.

In December Mr Trump tweeted: "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!"

He welcomed the news of his dismissal almost immediately after Mr Sessions announced it, calling the move a "great day for democracy".

Mr Trump's tweet about the firing provoked an angry response from former CIA director John Brennan, who implied Mr McCabe was being made a scapegoat.

News that Mr McCabe had kept records of his conversations with Mr Trump and FBI Director at the time James Comey emerged on Saturday.

US media say the memos will support Mr Comey's account of the circumstances of his dismissal last May.

Mr Comey has testified that Mr Trump had asked him for his "loyalty" and requested he drop an inquiry into his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

He too has said he kept contemporaneous notes of his dealings with the president.

In a statement responding to his firing on Friday, Mr McCabe vehemently denied wrongdoing.

"I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey," his response said.

The statement alleges that the justice department report recommending his firing was "accelerated" after he indicated that he would corroborate Mr Comey's version of events.

On Saturday Mr Comey - who is due to release a book - said Americans would soon be able to judge for themselves "who is honourable or not" after the president again criticised him on Saturday.

Russia Goes To The Polls In Presidential Election

Russians are voting in an election that is likely to return Vladimir Putin for a fourth term as president.

Voting began in the Russian far-east at 20:00 GMT on Saturday, and opened in Moscow nine hours later. More than 100 million people are eligible to vote.

Exit polls are expected late on Sunday. Mr Putin is hoping for another six-year term and faces seven other candidates.

He said he would see as a success any result that gave him the "right to perform the duties of president."

His comments were carried on national TV as he voted in Moscow.

Mr Putin's rivals include a millionaire communist, Pavel Grudinin, a former reality television host, Ksenia Sobchak, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been prohibited from standing, because of a fraud conviction that he has condemned as politically motivated. Mr Navalny has urged voters to boycott the election and has sent thousands of observers to polling stations to watch for possible violations.

Vladimir Putin, 65, has been Russia's dominant leader since 1999, either as president or prime minister.

Independent election monitoring group Golos reported more than 1,700 irregularities: Voting papers were found in some ballot boxes before polls opened; Observers were barred from entering some polling stations and Some people were bussed in amid suspicion of forced voting

Videos taken from the election commission's live stream of polling stations also appeared to show some instances of officials stuffing ballots into boxes.

Election officials said that, as of 10:00 local time (07:00 GMT), turnout was 16.55%, much higher than in previous years. They also said they had repelled a cyber attack on their website overnight. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was sourced to 15 countries, they said.

A 100% turnout was reported in some areas of the far east. Interfax news agency quoted an election official as saying every resident in six villages on the Kamchatka peninsula had cast their ballots. The same turnout was reported in four villages in the Chukotka region.

In some regions, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer.

Sunday's vote is the first in Crimea since Russia seized the region from Ukraine. The election falls on the fourth anniversary of a treaty, signed by President Putin, formally declaring Crimea part of Russia following its annexation.

The move was bitterly contested by Kiev and ratcheted up tensions between Russia and the West. As a result, Russians living in Ukraine were unable to take part in Sunday's vote because access to Russian diplomatic missions was blocked by the Kiev government.

Migrant Boat Sinks Off Greek Island, Killed At Least 15

Fifteen people, including at least five children, drowned on Saturday when the small boat they were travelling on capsized in the Aegean Sea, Greek coast guard officials said.

Russia Expels 23 British Diplomats As Crisis Deepens

Russia expelled 23 British diplomats on Saturday in a carefully calibrated retaliatory move against London, which has accused the Kremlin of orchestrating a nerve toxin attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in southern England.

Trump Ready To Fire National Security Adviser, Says Report

US President Donald Trump has reportedly decided to fire National Security Adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster and is actively involved in consultations for his potential replacements.

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