Putin urges high voter turnout ahead of election


Associated Press

MOSCOW

President Vladimir Putin has urged Russians to cast ballots in Sunday’s election, which he is certain to win, saying that the vote will shape the country’s future.

Putin said in a televised address Friday that “the will of the people, the will of each Russian citizen will determine the path the country will take.”

The Russian leader, whose approval ratings top 80 percent, is set to easily win another six-year term against seven challengers, but the Kremlin has been concerned about voter apathy and has sought to boost turnout to make Putin’s victory as impressive as possible.

Putin urged Russians to “use their right to choose the future for the great Russia that we all love.” He warned that failure to cast a ballot would mean that “this decisive choice will be made without your opinion taken into account.”

On Friday, the final day of the campaign, he visited a medical center in St. Petersburg, his home city, promising to modernize the health care system.

The president has traveled across Russia, pledging to raise wages, pour more funds into crumbling health care and education and modernize dilapidated infrastructure.

He also has appealed to national pride, pointing at Western sanctions against Russia as a proof of efforts by the U.S. and its allies to isolate and weaken Russia.

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