This was a given…..
Opposition figures were NEVER a serious question in the country….
Russian voters gave President Vladimir V. Putin their resounding approval for a fourth term on Sunday, with preliminary results on state television showing him with more than 70 percent of the vote, even if the initial turnout estimate was less than the Kremlin had sought.
A poor showing by the already fractious opposition prompted a bitter public dispute between the two most high-profile liberal politicians, with one denouncing the other as a Kremlin stooge even before the polls closed.
The Kremlin had initially hoped that Mr. Putin would get at least 70 percent of the vote with a 70 percent turnout, but on Sunday it appeared unlikely to achieve that goal, according to still preliminary figures. If the turnout figure does not change, it may end up being below the level in 2012, 65 percent.
Still, the numbers were high enough for Mr. Putin, 65, to claim a popular mandate for another six-year term, which under current term limits should be his last. Mr. Putin has been president since 2000, stepping aside for one term as prime minister to get around term limits.
Mr. Putin is expected to continue with little change in terms of trying to rebuild Russia as a global power while limiting economic reforms at home. Given his lame-duck status, many expect the fight will now begin in earnest among the Kremlin elite to choose his successor….