A self-assured Putin seems confident of electoral victory



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NIZHNY TAGIL, Russia (AP) — Vladimir Putin's self-assurance and relaxed demeanor reflects the stress-free campaign he has run ahead of Sunday's election that is certain to catapult him to another six-year presidential term.

The victory will put the Russian leader on track to become the nation's longest-serving ruler since Josef Stalin.

The 65-year-old president has made many trips across the vast country, reaching out to various social groups and industrial sectors.

Unlike the 2012 election, when Putin often looked tense and nervous amid massive protests of his rule, he faces no such threats this year — even with an anemic economy and spiraling tensions with the West.

Putin's popularity soared after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, and his ratings still top 80 percent, buttressed by flattering coverage of his activities by state-controlled media amid bitter showdowns with the West.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Vladimir Isachenkov

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