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A man holding up a placard showing a painting of Putin wearing a shirt with Crimea written on it in Russian
Image: Reuters/M. Shemetov

Putin calls for unity and 'deep-seated change'

Darko Janjevic
March 23, 2018

Russia needs a "real breakthrough" to improve the life quality of its citizens and face historical challenges, President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address. He also urged his opponents to work with the Kremlin.


Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked his voters for their "unprecedented support" after the nation's electoral body published the final tally of the presidential vote on Friday. According to the data, the Sunday election saw Putin win nearly 76.7 percent of the vote and secure another six-year term.

In a televised speech, Putin said he was "well aware" of the problems facing Russian citizens, including dropping incomes, gaps in health care provision, and issues with housing and utilities.

"We need a real breakthrough," he said. "I understand my colossal responsibility to Russian citizens, to the country."

"What we need is consequential, deep-seated change, thought-out moves that bring about steady positive results," Putin added.

The Russian president, who has been the nation's most powerful politician since 2000, pledged to create more jobs, fight poverty, develop infrastructure and education, as well as boost the development of "cities and villages."

"All of this will be based on a mighty leap in technology which we are about to make," Putin said, without providing details.

Read more: Vladimir Putin 4.0 - Russia's wartime president

'We are all patriots'

Sunday's election saw Putin score an easy victory against his competitors, with the runner-up, Pavel Grudinin of the Communist Party, winning less than 12 percent of the vote and the ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky placing third with 5.65 percent. Putin's best-known pro-Western rival, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running over a fraud case. The young opposition leader claims the charges had been trumped-up.

Putin urged his political opponents to cooperate with his efforts to improve Russia, saying that the move needed to have a "nationwide character and unite everyone."

"Yes, criticisms, arguments, discussions are necessary, but there should be no place for irresponsible populism," he said. "The main orientation point for everyone, today most of all, should be in the national interest and for the benefit of the people."

Read more: What you need to know about the Russian presidential election

He added that he respected the voters who did not support him, but emphasized that "political preferences should not divide us."

"We are all patriots of our country," he said.

Vladimir Putin came to power as a successor to Russia's first post-Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin. He has effectively remained the most powerful man in Russia since, including his stint as prime minister between 2008 and 2012. His most recent election success makes him the longest-serving Russian ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

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