New Delhi, Mar 19: Russian President Vladimir Putin has won fourth term in Sunday’s presidential elections, adding six years in the Kremlin for the man who has led the world’s largest country for all of the 21st century. Also Read - Banned Last Year For Advocating Referendum 2020, Pro-Khalistan Group Sikhs For Justice Launch Online Voter Registration

The central election commission said that Putin has received 76 percent of the vote while the Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin got 13.38 per cent votes. It was followed by veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky on 6.34 per cent. The celebrity opposition candidate Kseniya Sobchak just got 1.43 per cent votes. Also Read - On Call, PM Modi, Russian President Putin Discuss Bilateral Ties, Post-COVID World

After the victory, Putin said, “It’s very important to maintain this unity. We will think about the future of our great Motherland,” said Putin, before leading the crowd in repeated chants of “Russia!” He told a meeting of supporters afterwards that difficult times were ahead, but that Russia had a chance to make “a breakthrough. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: ‘Rajnath Singh Won’t Meet Chinese Counterpart in Moscow,’ India Quashes Media Reports

In his next six years in office, Putin is likely to assert Russia’s power abroad even more strongly. Just weeks before the election, he announced that Russia has developed advanced nuclear weapons capable of evading missile defences.

Putin was first elected as president in 2000. He has stamped his total authority on the world’s biggest country, muzzling opposition, putting television under state control and reasserting Moscow’s standing abroad.

The election came amid escalating tensions between Russia and the West, with reports that Moscow was behind the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain and that its internet trolls had mounted an extensive campaign to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Britain and Russia last week announced diplomat expulsions over the spy case and the United States issued new sanctions.

(With agency inputs)