It was the victory rally he never doubted he’d join. Two hours after the last polling stations in western Russia closed, Vladimir Putin strode on stage beneath the Kremlin walls to declare his re-election.
With a broad smile, he thanked the country for what he called “a vote of confidence” and promised to work for the future of a great nation. He then led the crowd of loyal, flag waving fans braving the freezing cold in a chant of “Russia! Russia!”
This was an election with eight candidates but one clear winner from the very start.
Russia’s most popular opposition politician Alexei Navalny had been excluded and a communist candidate was vilified by state-run media.
The society-girl-turned-activist Ksenia Sobchak ran her entire campaign on the basis she would lose.