Putin on track for shoo-in victory

Russia is preparing to carry out tests of the'Satan 2 nuclear missile which can carry 16 warheads and evade all missile defences according to the Kremlin

White House won't say if Putin is a friend or a foe

Russian President and Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin at a polling station during the presidential election in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2018.

Russians in the country's Far East have begun voting in the presidential election in which Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term.

The voting projection, by pollster VTsIOM, put Communist party challenger Pavel Grudinin in second place with 11.2 percent.

Opposition activists and the non-governmental election monitoring group Golos reported voting irregularities.

Election officials have responded similarly to allegations of ballot stuffing in the town of Lyubertsy just outside Moscow and the far eastern town of Artyom and have been looking into several other complaints.

Navalny - who called on his supporters to boycott the "fake" vote and sent more than 33,000 observers across the country to see how official turnout figures differed from those of monitors - said there had been "unprecedented violations".

Putin, who has ruled Russian Federation for nearly two decades, is polling at around 70 percent and is sure to extend his term to 2024 despite a lacklustre campaign.

Over recent years, the Russian people have united as one in firmly advancing on the path of strengthening the nation, realizing rejuvenation and development, achieving remarkable success in economic and social development, and playing an important constructive role in worldwide affairs, Chinese new agency quoted him as saying.

Walking out of schools and into national conversation
In Atlanta, high school students took a knee in protest . "Otherwise they are not going to be re-elected". A report called the Safe School Initiative came out of that partnership.

Since first being elected president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on the world's biggest country, muzzling opposition, putting television under state control and reasserting Moscow's standing overseas.

The 65-year-old former KGB officer used an otherwise lackluster presidential campaign to emphasize Russia's role as a major world power, boasting of its "invincible" new nuclear weapons in a pre-election speech. She was the only candidate to criticise Mr Putin.

"Currently, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership is at the best level in history, which sets an example for building a new type of global relations", Xi said in a congratulatory message to Putin, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

"After he brought Crimea back, he became a hero to me".

In response, London expelled 23 Russian diplomats, prompting a tit-for-tat move by Moscow.

Crimea and Russia's subsequent support of separatists in eastern Ukraine led to an array of USA and European sanctions that, along with falling oil prices, damaged the Russian economy and slashed the ruble's value by half.

Unlike the last time Putin faced voters, this time he faces no serious opposition movement, and has strengthened his domestic support through his actions in Ukraine and Syria.

Russians queue to cast their votes at the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany.

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