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China, India hail Putin election win; West brands it 'undemocratic'

Vladimir Putin is set to become the longest-serving Russian leader in more than 200 years (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA)
Vladimir Putin is set to become the longest-serving Russian leader in more than 200 years (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA)

Allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including China and India, on Monday congratulated him on winning a fifth term in office but Western powers denounced the election as illegitimate, held under repressive conditions with no credible opposition.

Here is a roundup of the main reactions to a vote that officially saw the 71-year-old Putin win with 87.28 percent of votes according to the latest count:

- China: popular 'support' -

- Beijing congratulated Putin, saying that the countries were "strategic cooperative partners in the new era" and that the result "fully reflects the support of the Russian people", Chinese state media reported.

- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his "warm congratulations" to Putin, adding that he looked forward to developing their "special" relationship. Russia is India's biggest arms supplier.

- North Korea's Kim Jong Un said Russian voters showed their "unshakeable support and trust" in Putin, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

- US, Britain: 'undemocratic' -

Western powers rejected the elections as neither free nor fair.

"This was an incredibly undemocratic process," US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, citing repression of the opposition and media.

Patel said Putin "is likely to remain the president of Russia, but that does not excuse him of his autocracy".

- British Foreign Minister David Cameron said that the holding of elections on occupied Ukrainian territory was "illegal". He added that the elections "starkly underline the depth of repression under President Putin's regime, which seeks to silence any opposition to his illegal war".

- Middle East allies -

Several Middle Eastern powers wished Putin well after the vote, just three months after he made a rare visit to the region.

- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated the Russian leader on his re-election and offered to mediate between Moscow and Ukraine, the Turkish presidency said.

"President Erdogan expressed his belief that the positive evolution of relations between Turkey and Russia were continuing and stated that Turkey was ready to play a facilitator role to return to the negotiating table with Ukraine," Erdogan's office said after a telephone call between the two leaders.

- Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi hailed Putin's "decisive victory", while Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wished him "success and prosperity".

- Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, each separately wished Putin "development and prosperity", and the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also sent congratulations.

- African support -

Mali's military ruler Assimi Goita, who has embraced Russia after breaking ties with its former ally France, hailed Putin's victory.

"As a strategic and sincere partner of Mali, I reiterate our total friendship," Goita said on social media.

Chad's President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, son of the country's late longtime leader Idriss Deby, said in a Facebook post that the result was "proof of the Russian people's trust" in Putin.

Niger's military ruler General Abdourahamane Tiani, who seized power from a pro-Western government in a July 2023 coup, congratulated Putin on his "resounding victory".

He said his country could count on Putin's "personal commitment" to aiding Niger in "regaining its sovereignty".

- Venezuela: 'bodes well' -

- In Latin America, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said: "Our older brother Vladimir Putin has triumphed, which bodes well for the world."

- Cuba's Miguel Diaz-Canel said that the official result was "a credible indication that the Russian population supports (Putin's) management of the country".

- Zelensky: 'evil' -

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the election as illegitimate.

"Everyone in the world understands that this person, like many others throughout history, has become sick with power and will stop at nothing to rule forever," he said.

"There is no evil he would not do to maintain his personal power."

- EU: 'repression' -

- European Union countries said in a joint statement that Russians had been denied a "real choice" after all candidates opposed to the war in Ukraine were excluded.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the vote was "based on repression and intimidation".

The 27-nation bloc did not, however, heed a call from the widow of leading Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny not to recognise Putin as the legitimate president of Russia.

Germany's foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said the vote "without choice" demonstrated "Putin's heinous behaviour against his own people".

France's foreign ministry said the conditions for a free election were not met, citing "increasing repression of civil society and all forms of opposition to the regime". It hailed the "courage" of Russians who demonstrated against the election conditions.

- Discord in Italy -

- Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani condemned the vote as "neither free nor fair".

He distanced himself from his coalition partner Matteo Salvini, who said in reaction to the election result: "When a people vote, they are always right."

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