Putin's election win 'underlines the depth of repression' in Russia, says David Cameron

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron denounced the election, saying 'this is not what free and fair elections look like', ITV News Europe Editor James Mates explains

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said Vladimir Putin's win in Russia's election that will extend his rule as president for six more years is "not democracy".

With nearly all the precincts counted by Monday, election officials said Putin had secured a record number of votes - an unsurprising development underlining the Russian leader’s total control of the country’s political system.

Putin has led Russia as president or prime minister since December 1999, a tenure marked by international military aggression and an increasing intolerance for dissent.

Lord Cameron said the result "starkly underline the depth of repression under President Putin’s regime, which seeks to silence any opposition to his illegal war2.

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

Putin addressed his supporters shortly after his victory was confirmed

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.

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.

Other Western leaders have denounced the election as a sham, while Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy particularly criticised voting in Ukrainian areas that Russia has illegally annexed, saying "everything Russia does on the occupied territory of Ukraine is a crime.”

Lord Cameron said in a statement Putin had sought "to silence any opposition to his illegal war".

“Putin removes his political opponents, controls the media, and then crowns himself the winner. This is not democracy... The death of Alexei Navalny just weeks before the election was a tragic reminder of the severity of political repression in Russia today," he said.

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

“Holding elections on Ukrainian territory – as Russia did in Crimea, Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia – is an abhorrent violation of the UN Charter and Ukrainian sovereignty."

Defence Secretary Grant 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.”

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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