STATE DEPARTMENT - Hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin won re-election, White House officials said his victory was no surprise, and they have no plans for President Trump to call Putin to congratulate him on the victory.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the United States will work with Russia where it can.
“We will work to cultivate the relationship with Russia and we will impose costs when Russia threatens our interests, but we will also look for places to work together when it serves our interests,” Gidley said.
Official results Monday show Putin won his fourth term with 77 percent of the vote.The election “lacked real competition” according to International Observers in Moscow, including Ambassador Jan Petersen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Observers also said the election campaign was flawed by “restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression as well as on candidate registration and those have limited the space for political engagement.”
Putin’s most popular and formidable opponent, Alexei Navanly was barred from the ballot after organizing nationwide protests again Putin. Navalny said there were unprecedented violations, and that all over the country, the Russian government drove people to the polls to make sure turnout was high.
“You can see that the turnout, for the first time in Russian history, has moved to the morning. So most of the voters came to polls at 8 a.m. Well, it’s unlikely that any sane person could say it’s a normal course of voting. All of them were driven there. Well, we understand that happened, it was a true (organized) re-election of Putin.”
Video surfaced from a number of different polling places in Russia of people stuffing multiple ballots into boxes.
Alexander Vershbow is a former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, and a fellow at the Atlantic Council. He agreed that there was no real competition for the election.
“Candidates obviously played their roles in this political theater, so that it all looks like a competition, but it’s more of a farce than real elections. It’s a masquerade, of course.” Vershbow added: “I will be really disappointed if President Trump congratulates Putin with his win in this so-called election.”