Russian Voters Hand Putin a Resounding and Expected Victory
The voters of Russia have handed Vladimir Putin a resounding and expected victory. With nearly all the ballots counted from almost all the precincts, Putin is poised to began his new six-year term as Russia's leader with more than 76 percent of the votes. Putin has been in a position of leadership in Russia for 18 years.
Opinion polls showed he had far more support than any of his rivals.
Putin addressed thousands on the Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin late Sunday. He hailed those who voted for him as a "big national team," adding that "we are bound for success."
Asked if he would seek the presidency again when next eligible to run, in 2030, the 65-year-old Russian leader snapped, "It's ridiculous. Do you think I will sit here until I turn 100?"
Putin's closest rival was opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was disqualified from running in the election when he was convicted for embezzlement in December. Given a five-year suspended sentence, Navalny said the conviction was politically motivated, to keep him out of the race.
Navalny led a boycott effort, while Russian election organizers hoped for a high voter turnout to legitimize an election long seen to have been a foregone conclusion.
Putin has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999. He has switched back and forth between the two roles to circumvent a Russian law banning him from serving more than two consecutive terms as president.
Syrian Kurds Vow "Constant Nightmare" for Turkish Forces in Afrin
Syrian Kurds are threatening a new stepped-up guerilla war after Turkish forces and their Syrian allies took control of the northern Syrian town of Afrin, a Kurdish enclave.
"Our forces all over Afrin will become a constant nightmare for them," top Syrian Kurd official Othman Sheikh Issa said. "These forces will strike the positions of the Turkish enemy and its mercenaries at every opportunity," he warned.
Turkey and their Syrian allies raised flags in central Afrin early Sunday, declaring they are in full control of the town after meeting no resistance from the People's Defense Units, the Kurdish militia.
Erdogan vowed to stop the Kurds from setting up what he calls a "terror corridor" along the Turkish-Syrian border. He threatened to take the fight further east in Syria, where U.S. forces are aiding their Kurdish allies - setting up the possibility of even more tension between the U.S. and Turkey.he highest price.
The fight for east Ghouta has killed more than 1,400 residents in the past month and sent tens of thousands of others fleeing for their lives.
Those who have stayed behind are facing severe food shortages and scant medical care.