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EU leaders refuse to recognize Putin's re-election as free and fair while congratulations pour in from South America and Central Asia

On March 18, Russia’s Central Election Commission announced Vladimir Putin’s apparent victory in the Russian presidential election — the incumbent had won a record post-Soviet landslide of 87.28%, the agency claimed.

The elections, which were also held in the regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia’s army, took place over a three-day period from March 15 to March 17. Violations, such as coercion and forced voting, were documented throughout the election.

The first to congratulate Vladimir Putin on the morning of March 18 — after Russia’s Central Election Commission announced his apparent victory in the recent presidential election — were the leaders of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran.

Putin also received congratulations from several South American leaders — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Bolivian President Luis Arce. They described Putin's “victory” in the elections as “overwhelming” and “crushing.”

“I congratulate you on your victory and your re-election as president of the Russian Federation with an overwhelming majority, which confirms the high trust of the Russian people in you, in your national policy and in your strategic visions based on their (the people's) interests and on the high place Russia occupies in the world,” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in a statement posted on his Telegram channel.

Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega, meanwhile, declared Vladimir Putin's “triumph” as a “contribution into the much-needed stability of humankind” and said Russia's elections had been “exemplary and calm.”

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel also expressed his “sincere congratulations” on Putin’s re-election. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conveyed his congratulations to Putin through the North Korean embassy in Russia, according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency. The content of the message was not disclosed in the report.

“I congratulate His Excellency Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation on his re-election and look forward to working with him to further strengthen Pakistan-Russia relations,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wrote on his Twitter page.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, also sent a congratulatory telegram to Putin, wishing him success and expressing hope for the further development and strengthening of relations between the two countries, a statement from the Sheikh's office said.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune congratulated “his colleague” Vladimir Putin on his re-election, according to a message from the Algerian leader's office.

According to a report by the WAFA news agency, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also congratulated Putin on his re-election, wishing him “continued success in performing the lofty tasks entrusted to him, and achieving the goals and aspirations of him and the friendly Russian people.” Abbas “affirmed his pride in the relations of friendship and solidarity that bring together the two countries and peoples, and his great appreciation for Russia’s support for the rights of Palestinian people,” according to the report.

Several EU leaders dismissed the elections in Russia as not free nor fair. German chancellor Olaf Scholz refused to congratulate Putin, as per a Reuters report citing a spokesman for the German government.

“The result was predetermined,” the spokesperson told a government press conference in Berlin, referring to Russia as a dictatorship.

“Russia's presidential election is not legal, free and fair,” read a statement from Poland’s foreign ministry on Sunday. It added that voting had taken place “amid harsh repressions” and in occupied parts of Ukraine in breach of international law.

Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also denounced Russia’s “sham” presidential election, calling it a “tragic farce.”

“Law cannot arise from lawlessness, and internationally respectable legitimacy cannot arise from coercion, oppression and fraud,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, we do not consider and do not call this falsified and sham procedure an election, because unfortunately, it is more like a tragic farce.”

On the first day of the voting, March 15, White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that “the idea of free and fair elections in Russia is a misnomer.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by calling Kirby’s statements “predictable.”

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