Reactions as Vladimir Putin secures a fifth term as Russia’s president after tightly controlled vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on a visit to his campaign headquarters after a presidential election in Moscow in Moscow, Russia, early Monday, March 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on a visit to his campaign headquarters after a presidential election in Moscow in Moscow, Russia, early Monday, March 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Vladimir Putin secured an unprecedented fifth term as president of Russia Monday, as the election commission announced the results of a vote in which he faced no serious challenges and which happened amid the strictest crackdown on opposition and free speech since Soviet times.

Putin claimed his overwhelming margin was proof that Russians had placed their “trust” and “hopes” in him, while politicians across Europe rejected the vote as a sham and condemned Russia’s efforts to stage elections in occupied parts of Ukraine that it claims as its own territory.

Here’s what Putin, European leaders and others are saying:

“Of course, we have lots of tasks ahead. But I want to make it clear for everyone: when we were consolidated, no one has ever managed to frighten us, to suppress our will and our self-conscience. They failed in the past and they will fail in the future.” — Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

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“It certainly was an undemocratic process and I think it is safe to say that there certainly won’t be congratulatory calls coming from the United States of America.” — State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel

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“The elections took place in an ever-shrinking political space, which has resulted in an alarming increase of violations of civil and political rights, and precluded many candidates from running, including all those opposed to Russia’s illegal war of aggression.” — Statement from the European Union

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“There is no legitimacy in the imitation of elections.” — Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, in a nightly radio address on Sunday

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“The results are, of course, stunning. It’s a serious signal to the West, which has sought to destabilize the domestic situation in Russia.” — President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, during a meeting with officials after congratulating Putin in a call

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“We consider this so-called election in Russia last weekend to be neither free nor fair … Russia, as the chancellor has already said, is now a dictatorship and is ruled by Vladimir Putin in an authoritarian manner.” — Christina Hoffmann, spokeswoman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

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“Russia’s organization of elections in occupied parts of Georgia and Ukraine is completely illegal. And Russia’s presidential election was clearly neither free nor fair.” — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg while visiting Tbilisi, Georgia on Monday

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“These Russian elections starkly underline the depth of repression under President Putin’s regime, which seeks 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.” — David Cameron, U.K. foreign secretary.

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“Searches at entrances to polling stations, attempts to check ballots before voters put them into ballot boxes, detentions of voters who came to vote noon. Now there is a report that at one polling station in Moscow, police have demanded that a chairman of a commission (of poll workers) open a ballot box and give them a ballot with something written on it. It is the first time in my life that I see such absurdity.” — Stanislav Andreychuk, co-chair of Golos independent election watchdog, on Telegram

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“I’m glad that people outside the confines of the political prison that is called Russia currently are able to express their opinions … For example, Russians that voted in Lithuania, just 3% of those who came to the Russian embassy in Vilnius voted for Vladimir Putin. Others decided either to spoil the ballot paper or to vote for any other candidate that was there on the ballot.” — Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuanian foreign minister

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“The election in Russia was an election without a choice. Holding so-called elections in parts of Ukraine, parts of Moldova and parts of Georgia is contrary to international law. It is therefore all the more remarkable how many Russians made it clear this weekend that they do not see eye to eye with this Russian president. That you go to a polling station even if you are accompanied by soldiers — that fills me with the utmost respect.” — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock

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