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That Vladimir Putin’s re-election as president of Russia on Sunday was both rigged and inevitable is beyond question.

His popularity meant there was never any doubt about the outcome, so he hardly bothered to campaign and skipped the only televised debate.

Mr. Putin’s sole concern was winning by a crushing majority, which he partly accomplished by not letting anyone credible compete for his job. He was further boosted by a state campaign that pressured people to vote, or lured them into polling stations with the promise of valuable prizes and cheap food. There is also widespread evidence of blatant ballot stuffing on Sunday, some of it caught on security cameras.

All those factors helped raise participation to over 67 per cent and gave Mr. Putin the 77-per-cent victory he craved.

At 65, he is now more firmly installed as the leader of Russia than ever. When his term ends in six years, he will have been president or prime minister for 24 years. By the time of the next election, he will no doubt have changed the constitution and will be eligible for another term.

He is, in short, in power until he dies, something most Russians are fine with for now. His campaign slogan, “Strong President, Strong Russia,” rings true to them. With the help of an utterly compromised national media, he has become sanctified as the one man who can stand up to the West.

Perversely, that reputation is only reinforced by the economic sanctions and angry condemnation stemming from Russia’s invasion of Crimea, its state-sanctioned meddling with American and European elections, and the poisoning of British citizens in Salisbury this month using a well-known Russian nerve agent. Every Western reprimand translates into more domestic power for Mr. Putin.

For the next six years, he will be able to continue his foreign adventures with the cheerful support of his people and with only limited foreign blowback, partly because the country that once served as Russia’s nemesis, the United States, only goes through the motions these days.

Revered at home, unchallenged by the Trump administration and armed with a strong mandate to continue making trouble for the West, this is Mr. Putin’s moment. What he will do next is terrifying to ponder.

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