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‘History will judge Putin poorly’: Joly slams Russian election

Click to play video: 'Russia election: Putin wins 5th term in office with 87% of vote'
Russia election: Putin wins 5th term in office with 87% of vote
WATCH ABOVE: Putin wins 5th term in office with 87% of vote in Russia's election – Mar 17, 2024

Canada’s foreign minister has slammed Vladimir Putin’s re-election in Russia as a “flawed electoral process.”

“While he may celebrate today,” Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said in a statement Monday, “history will judge Putin poorly for his authoritarianism, war and the illegal attempted annexation of the territory of a neighbouring country.”

After years of eroding and sidestepping Russia’s constitution, Putin secured his fifth term as president in a contest experts say was fixed months in advance.

Putin has led Russia as president or, briefly, as prime minister since 1999. By the time his latest term expires in 2030 (at which point he is expected to illegitimately secure another six years in the Kremlin), he will have ruled longer that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and will be the longest-serving Russian leader since the 18th-century Tsarina Catherine the Great.

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Click to play video: 'How does Putin stay in power?'
How does Putin stay in power?

“Sadly for the Russian people, Putin has constructed a political system in which human rights are denied. His opponents are arrested and silenced, a free media does not operate and citizens are denied genuine political options,” Joly said.

She also condemned reports of Russian soldiers forcing people in occupied Ukraine to vote, calling it a “blatant breach of international law.”

She joined a chorus of democratic world leaders also denouncing the election results.

“Putin removes his political opponents, controls the media, and then crowns himself the winner. This is not democracy,” British foreign affairs minister and former prime minister David Cameron said.

A spokesperson for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russia “is now a dictatorship and is ruled by Vladimir Putin in an authoritarian manner.”

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The Kremlin dismissed any criticism, saying Putin winning 87 per cent of the vote shows the Russian people are consolidating around him.

Experts previously told Global News Putin held the election to retain a sheen of legitimacy and the vote’s outcome was predetermined.

Putin’s two main rivals, warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin and lawyer Alexei Navalny, have died within the past year. Critics and world leaders say Putin is responsible, though the Kremlin has denied all allegations.

Thousands of people across Russia lined up at noon on Sunday at their respective polling stations as a sign of protest, responding to a call to action by Navalny before he died in an Arctic prison colony last month.

Putin named Navalny for the first time in months in his victory speech, saying he had been ready to exchange the democracy advocate in a prisoner swap when Navalny died.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi congratulated Putin.

with files from The Associated Press’ Emma Burrows, Dasha Litvinova and Jim Heintz and Reuters’ Matthias Williams, John Irish, Guy Faulconbridge and Andrew Osborn

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