Early results: Russia's Putin wins re-election

Vladimir Putin stormed to victory in Russia's presidential election, giving him another six years in power as Moscow's relations with the West plunge to new Cold War lows.

But local election officials said they had confirmed an incident of ballot box stuffing in the Moscow suburb of Lyubertsy after studying video camera recordings, the state news agency TASS reported.

Since first being elected president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on Russian Federation muzzling opposition and reasserting Moscow's posture overseas.

Mr Johnson said he will brief European Union foreign ministers on the case on Monday before meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The Central Election Commission also claimed it had been the target of a hacking attempt from 15 unidentified nations that was deterred by authorities.

Following Putin, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin received the next highest number of votes of 12 percent. Navalny was prevented from running because of a criminal conviction widely viewed as politically motivated. "Do you think that I will stay here until I'm 100 years old? No!"

Under the Constitution, any Russian citizen aged 35 years or above, who has resided in Russia for no less than 10 years and does not hold citizenship or right of residence in any other countries, can be elected president. A win would mean a Putin-led Russian Federation until 2024, after which he is constitutionally obliged to stand down.

Despite Putin's genuine popularity, the Russian election has been blasted by outsiders as fraudulent.

Britain secured the backing of the leaders of the United States, France, and Germany who said in a statement there was "no plausible alternative explanation" to Russian Federation being to blame for the attack.

The Kremlin, however, is concerned about turnout.

Mr Navalny and his supporters called for an election boycott but the extent of its success could not immediately be gauged.

The Kremlin has indicated it would expel British diplomats in a riposte to London's move as well as adopt other measures that would "most suit Moscow's interests".

Great-grandmother Valentina Ivanova, 76, explained to CNN in Moscow why she was voting.

This is the former KGB officer's fourth presidential term as president but he has been in effective control of the country in one post or another since he emerged from near complete obscurity in 1999.

"My country is getting stronger - its always been strong - and we approve of the direction it's going in".

Across the country in the city of Yekaterinburg, a Russian doctor also said she was being coerced to vote.

He referred to the March 4 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as a "tragedy".

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, alleged Kremlin meddling in the USA presidential election, and Moscow's bombing campaign in Syria, have been condemned in the West.

Mr Putin dismissed the British accusations, emphasising an attack on Mr Skripal would make no sense.

How long Putin wants to stay in power is uncertain.

In fact, he may be banking on confrontation with global players this election.

Sunday's vote was also the first in Crimea since Russian Federation seized the region from Ukraine.

His popularity soared after Russian Federation annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and his ratings still top 80%, buttressed by flattering coverage of his activities by state-controlled media amid bitter showdowns with the West.

"But the administration has been pretty tough on Russian Federation", he said, noting a White House decision to allow Ukraine to buy USA light weapons. "This is just a circus show", she said.

The sanctions also affect the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, and six of its employees for cyberattacks more broadly, including those targeting Russian journalists, opposition figures, foreign politicians and USA officials.

Results for all other candidates, including former reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak and ultra-nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky were forecast to be in single figures.

On Saturday, Russia's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said Moscow "had nothing to do" with the attack, accusing Johnson of "acting in an inappropriate manner" by pointing the finger at Putin.

Thursday's action blocks all property of those targeted that is subject to USA jurisdiction and prohibits American citizens from engaging in transactions with them.

  • Leroy Wright