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Ahead of the vote, Vladimir Putin toured various Russian regions, meeting factory workers, the military, scientists, farmers and college students.

But he never mentioned the word “elections” and they were a far cry from anything like a campaign rally. That’s because Putin doesn’t like electoral campaigns, calling them “unscrupulous acts”.

He didn’t take part in presidential debates either, saying once they were “uninteresting” and had “no point”.

When he first ran for president he would talk about the “terrorist threat” in the 2000s. In 2012, when he ran for a third term, he thanked factory workers who wanted to save Moscow from “the liberals“ in 2012.

So what did Putin talk about this time?

“Vladimir Vladimirovich, what do you like more: cucumbers or tomatoes?” one of the farmers in Stavropol region in Russia’s North Caucasus asked him in early March.

“Depends on what we’re snacking on,” Putin joked, before adding “seriously though, I like them both”.

When asked by a Moscow-based Belgian doctor how to understand the “mysterious Russian soul”, Putin said Belgium owed its existence on the map “largely thanks to Russia“. Belgian media accused Putin of “re-writing history”.

The day Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny died in prison in the Arctic, a woman approached Putin in Chelyabinsk and said: “The organisers allowed me to ask you any question. I was thinking and thinking, and realised: I have nothing to ask you.”

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