Russians' lip-curling scorn proves they did it, says Boris Johnson

People walk near a board, which advertises the campaign of Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of the upcoming presidential election, in a street in Stavropol, Russia.

May said that it was tragic that Putin, who is likely to coast to a fourth term in a Sunday presidential election, had chosen to act in such a way. However, Johnson went further, blaming Putin directly on Friday.

"It's a very unusual campaign because Putin sees the election as a harmful thing that distracts him from his real task" of running the country, said Tatiana Stanovaya, an independent political analyst.

Avakov said that, on the day of the vote, only Russian diplomats would be allowed to enter the embassy in Kiev and Russia's consulates in the major Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Odessa and Lviv.

Putin's announcement comes hours after leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany slammed the Russian government for its role behind the illegal assassination plot; labeling the attack "abhorrent" to the global community.

The expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats identified as undeclared spies will cripple the Kremlin's intelligence operations in Britain for decades, Boris Johnson has claimed.

The U.S. has also expelled diplomats and issued sanctions against Russian Federation after accusing it of covertly helping President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

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"The uniqueness of the bridge lies in the fact that everything here is Russian", said, Arkady Rotenberg, the US- and EU-sanctioned billionaire whose company Stroygazmontazh is building the bridge. His electoral victory will put the Russian leader on track to become the nation's longest-serving ruler since Josef Stalin. In a YouTube video aired late Thursday, he mocked Sobchak and other candidates, describing them as "clowns" manipulated by the Kremlin, and called on his supporters to press for change by taking to the streets.

Sobchak has denied collusion with the Kremlin and said she was ready to cooperate with Putin's main foe, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was barred from the race because of a criminal conviction widely seen as politically motivated. He has called for a boycotting of the vote.

TV officials insist they are merely covering Mr Putin's activities as president but the overall impression is of a national hero who dwarfs the other candidates and their squabbles.

One is Pavel Grudinin, a 57-year-old millionaire director of a strawberry farm.

A quick rise in Grudinin's popularity anxious the Kremlin, and in an apparent attempt to cut him down to size, state TV and other media ran exposes about his Swiss bank accounts to tiresome his populist image. A low turnout would dent his legitimacy within the ruling elite, founded in part on his ability to command popular support.

Struggling with a cold for much of the campaign, Putin attended few election events and, as in previous contests, dodged televised debates with his opponents.

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