Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday thanked Russians for voting and backing him in an election he was set to win in a landslide. Photo of Vladimir Putin is taken by Yachoslav Ptokptiev/TASS.

«I want to thank the citizens of Russia… who came to the polling stations and voted,» Putin said after exit polls and early results showed him on track to secure 87%.

As the offensive in Ukraine entered its third year, he expressed «special words of gratitude to our soldiers… who fulfill the most important task of protecting our people.»

«No matter who or how much they want to intimidate us, no matter who or how much they want to suppress us, our will, our consciousness — no one has ever succeeded in anything like this in history. It has not worked now and will not work in the future. Never,» Putin said.

Putin said that the death of late opposition leader Alexei Navalny was a «sad event,» and that he had been ready to release him in a prisoner exchange.

Using his name in public for the first time in years, Putin said: «As for Mr. Navalny. Yes, he passed

away. This is a sad event.»

He added: «A few days before Mr. Navalny passed away, some colleagues told me… there was an idea to exchange Mr. Navalny for some people who are in prison in Western countries… I said ‘I agree’.»

He said law enforcement would take action against people who spoiled their ballots in the presidential election.

«People who spoiled their ballot papers… These kinds of people have to be dealt with,» Putin said.

The opposition had called on Russians to turn up at polling stations at midday Sunday in protest, an action Putin said had had «no effect.»

And Putin said his troops had the upper hand in Ukraine after they captured a string of towns and villages in the east of the country.

«The initiative belongs entirely to the Russian armed forces, and in some areas our guys are just tearing them — the enemy — apart right now,» Putin said according to Moscow Times.

New York Times are writing about how Trump Allies Are Winning the War Over Disinformation

They are making a coordinated effort to block what they view as dangerous censorship of conservatives — and they are prevailing.

The NYT,com writes that Putin Extends His Rule After Predetermined Vote

Vladimir Putin claimed another six-year term after a presidential contest in which he faced no real competition.

Vladimir Putin broke as mentioned his silence on the death of Aleksei Navalny, calling it an “unfortunate incident.” according to New York Times.

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