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Russians begin voting for presidential election

Gorkha Post

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MOSCOW — Russian citizens eligible to vote in the presidential elections living in the country’s easternmost regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka, began casting ballots to vote for the next president on Sunday.

The vote will last for a total of 22 hours, spanning from Kamchatka and Chukotka in the East to the westernmost enclave of Kaliningrad, will be heading to polls on Sunday.

Polling stations opened at 8 am local time (8 pm GMT on March 17) in Russia’s Far East, state television reported.

Overall, 97,000 polling stations, 400 of them located abroad, are hosting the elections. Over 108 million citizens in Russia and nearly 2 million outside are eligible to take part in the vote.

Some 30,000 Russians have already cast an early ballot vote from abroad, Russia’s Electoral Commission said. It is expected that the majority of those who live in foreign countries or happened to be outside Russia on the day of the presidential ballot will be able to vote on Sunday.

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Opinion polls give Vladimir Putin, the incumbent President, support of around 70 percent, or nearly 10 times the backing of his nearest challenger. Another term will take him to nearly a quarter century in power — a longevity among Kremlin leaders second only to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Many voters credit Putin, a 65-year-old former KGB spy, with standing up for Russia’s interests in a hostile outside world, even though the cost is confrontation with the West.

The voting procedure will be monitored by about 1,500 international observers from 109 countries.

The eight candidates running for the election are incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who participates as an independent candidate, Vladimir Zhirinovsky from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and businessman Pavel Grudinin nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF).

Other candidates include Grigory Yavlinsky from Yabloko party, leader of the Party of Growth Boris Titov, head of the Russian All-People Union Sergey Baburin, TV host Ksenia Sobchak and head of the Communists of Russia Maxim Suraikin.

Agencies

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Thai authorities launch search for youth soccer team trapped in cave

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BANGKOK — Search and rescue teams on Sunday are looking for a dozen members of a youth soccer team who are missing since late Saturday afternoon, believed to be trapped in a cave in northern Thailand.

Police said local authorities, police and rescue workers were working with divers to find the 12 boys, aged 11-15, and their coach, who are believed to have entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province.

The group were apparently trapped when a heavy storm flooded a stream at the cave’s entrance.

Police Colonel Komsan Saardluan said parts of the cave, which is an estimated 6-8 kilometres long, get flooded to a height of as much as 5 metres during the rainy season, which runs from June through to October.

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Footage on Thai television showed bikes and backpacks left at the cave entrance. ThaiPBS television reported the team members came from various schools in the province and were thought to have been practicing before going to the park where the cave is located.

The search began around midnight on Saturday after police received a report of a missing child from a mother who said her son had not returned from the soccer practice that evening, ThaiPBS reported.

It said the mother last spoke to her son when he told her in the afternoon he was with the group visiting a cave inside the Tham Luang-Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district.

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