Putin's certain victory: What you need to know about the Russian presidential election – Deutsche Welle

14:02 • 12.03.18



A successful leader at the height of his power: This is how Russia's president Vladimir Putin is presenting himself. His re-election seems unquestionable — and the possible consequences are worrying.


It's business as usual in Russia: Vladimir Putin is facing his fourth term as president and looks likely to be determining the country's fate for another six years. The 65-year-old Kremlin leader's victory in the election on March 18 is considered certain, as he is ahead in all the polls. Public opinion pollsters predict that he will get more than 70 percent of the vote. This would be a personal record for the former KGB officer, who was first elected as president in 2000.


According to sociologist Lev Gudkov, head of the renowned public opinion research institute Levada Center, Putin's approval ratings are currently at a high point. "The high approval of his policies, not taking into account the (current) patriotic-military wave, is based on the lack of alternatives and crucial illusions," Gudkov told Deutsche Welle in December. One such illusion, he said, was the belief held by many Russians that Putin will guarantee the existing prosperity.


The challengers 

A total of eight candidates will take part in the Russian presidential election. They include experienced party leaders, such as right-wing populist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal opposition politician Grigory Yavlinsky. But there are also some new faces. For example, instead of their elderly leader, Gennady Zyuganov, the Communists have entered local politician and Stalin admirer Pavel Grudinin in the race, in what seems like a good move for them. The 57-year-old, who runs a successful agricultural company near Moscow, has moved up to second place in recent surveys. Polls put him in the upper single-digit range, well behind Putin, but still ahead of Zhirinovsky.


Another new candidate, the only woman who is running, is 36-year-old television presenter Ksenia Sobtchak. She is the daughter of the former mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobtchak, whose deputy during the 1990s happens to have been Vladimir Putin. This self-proclaimed "candidate against all" is trying to attract liberal protest voters and is helping the Kremlin, whether consciously or not, to increase voter turnout.


At first glance, the full spectrum of political views appears to be represented, from far left to far right, with Putin positioned in the center. But this impression is deceptive. In surveys, all candidates, with the exception of Putin, are polling at less than 10 percent and are no real competition for the favorite. Some are suspected of being dummy candidates in cahoots with the Kremlin. There are TV debates in which Putin is also criticized, but they often degenerate into trash shows without any real substance. The Kremlin leader himself never takes part in them. 


Navalny excluded


Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has stylized himself as Putin's number one opponent, was not even allowed to run for president and has called for an election boycott. The 41-year-old Moscow-based politician and anti-corruption campaigner was given a suspended sentence for an economic crime in what he considers to have been a show trial. He is fighting his sentence through the courts. Navalny is currently regarded as the most influential opposition politician in Russia and has already organized several mass protests. Electoral researchers believe that while he would not be able to defeat Putin in a fair election, he could dampen the Kremlin leader's result.


Probably the biggest unknown in this election is whether Navalny will call for street protests again after Putin's expected victory. "I believe that people have a fundamental right to a rebellion against tyranny," Navalny told Deutsche Welle in February. "But what is happening in Russia right now are completely peaceful actions. The demonstrators' attitudes are much more peaceful than those of the authorities, who accompany every demonstration with some kind of military deployment."


In the winter of 2011/2012, Navalny was one of the leaders of protests that overshadowed Putin's return to the Kremlin. The urban middle class' dissatisfaction with Putin personally brought tens of thousands of Muscovites to the streets. His image as a successful ruler was tarnished for the first time.


Concerns about voter turnout

 

After his victory in the last presidential election, Putin reacted by imposing restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression, and by establishing "Rosgwardija," a police force under his personal control. It stands ready to put down any insurrection — such as, for example, in neighboring Ukraine in 2014.


In order to signal a fresh start, the election administrator has been replaced. He had been utterly discredited amid allegations of falsification. One of his successor's tasks is to boost voter turnout. In recent years, fewer and fewer Russians have turned out to vote, especially in big cities such as Moscow.


The Kremlin seems concerned and Russian authorities are trying to woo citizens using all available means: from comical promotional videos on social media, to election advertising on milk bottles, to (free) cancer screening on election day. The election date, which falls on the fourth anniversary of the Crimean annexation, was also deliberately chosen to revive the euphoria of 2014. There is no perceptible mood of protest, which is probably due to domestic and, above all, foreign policy.


The legacy of Putin's third term

 

Putin's third term in office, which is now coming to an end, was extended in advance from four to six years by a constitutional amendment. It changed Russia more than the previous ones. The Crimean annexation is regarded as a turning point. It caused Putin's stagnating poll results to skyrocket, got the general public to rally behind the president and put the country on a confrontation course with the West. Since then, politicians and the media have been stoking such public sentiment as though Russia were a besieged fortress. Warlike rhetoric has become part of everyday life.


The spiral of sanctions, which the West was, at first, reluctant to implement, is gaining momentum following Russia's attempt to interfere in the US presidential election in 2016. So far, these sanctions have harmed Moscow less than the 2014 collapse in world oil and gas prices, Russia's main export commodities. After a dramatic decline in recent years, the Russian economy is slowly growing again and inflation seems to be subdued. However, in 2017, the average real income fell for the fourth consecutive year, by 1.7 percent. By contrast, military spending was kept at high levels, at the expense of education and health care.  


Putin 4.0 — a bleak outlook?

 

With the military intervention in the Syrian civil war on President Bashar al-Assad's side, Moscow's leadership was able to end Putin's partial isolation on the international stage and establish Russia as a big player in the Middle East. Putin substantiated his aspiration of re-establishing Russia as a major power. In his keynote speech on the state of the nation at the beginning of March, he portrayed himself as a successful ruler leading his people from one victory to the next. His presentation of new nuclear weapons, addressed to the arch-rival USA, was a surprise. Putin's message: "Don't mess with us."


Foreign policy seems to be the main subject of Putin's election campaign. The closer election day comes, the more often the president brandishes his atomic arsenal. In a documentary film called "World Order 2018," Putin makes it clear that if his country is attacked, he will use nuclear weapons, even if it would mean the end of the world: "Why do we need a world if there is no Russia there?"


And the signs are still pointing to turbulent times ahead. The US is preparing new sanctions. Russia, which has so far been hesitant to respond, will then probably retaliate. The conflict in eastern Ukraine, currently on a low burner, could quickly escalate. In the Middle East, there is the threat of an expansion of the war in Syria, which could require stronger involvement by the Russian army.


Putin has used the past few years to militarily strengthen his country and disconnect from the West, whether in regard to food products, banks or the internet. Some observers are warning that Russia may spin out of control after the elections or, at the latest, after the football World Cup this summer.





Загрузка...

LATEST NEWSAll Today news

18:24 • 18/06

Audi chief arrested in Germany over diesel scandal

18:18 • 18/06

John Travolta mob film gets whacked by critics

17:38 • 18/06

Nikol Pashinyan calls for comprehensive probe into former army general's criminal case  

16:52 • 18/06

Turkey opens natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan

13:21 • 18/06

Bulgaria ratifies EU-Armenia agreement

12:32 • 18/06

First tourism information center opens in Yerevan

11:46 • 18/06

Bitcoin 'bringing internet to halt'

10:35 • 18/06

Taliban ends truce in Afghanistan despite plea

10:29 • 18/06

WC 2018: Brazil 1-1 Switzerland

10:23 • 18/06

Chic or shocking? Meghan Markel's £4k floaty wrap dress gets mixed reactions as she and Harry are guests at his cousin's wedding

10:11 • 18/06

At least 3 killed, 200+ injured after 6.1 quake strikes Osaka, Japan

09:45 • 18/06

Mayor of Echmiadzin resigns

09:12 • 18/06

Conservative politician elected Columbia president

15:02 • 16/06

No geopolitical context behind Armenia's 'velvet revolution', Prime Minister tells Russia Today  

13:58 • 16/06

Georgian president confirms nomination of new prime minister

13:40 • 16/06

Grand Chess Tour: Aronian leads tournament ahead of final day

13:17 • 16/06

BarCamp opens annual master class series in Yerevan

12:09 • 16/06

Nikol Pashinyan starting ‘short trip’ to Artsakh

11:44 • 16/06

Zhoghovurd: Azerbaijan’s belligerent intentions towards Artsakh ‘big challenge’

11:08 • 16/06

Adults in polyamorous relationship declared legal parents of child in Canada

10:16 • 16/06

Zhoghovurd: Armenia’s social affairs minister may retract resignation?   

10:04 • 16/06

Japan hit by tropical storm

09:58 • 16/06

WC 2018: Portugal 3-3 Spain

09:43 • 16/06

Trump says meeting with Putin ‘possible’ this summer

09:28 • 16/06

Greece, Macedonia to sign name change accord

09:13 • 16/06

Eiffel Tower perimeter fence built to stop terrorism

18:30 • 15/06

Russia seeking 'increased influence' on Armenia, Artsakh, warns poltiical analyst

17:53 • 15/06

Fox apologizes for Robbie Williams’ WC 2018 gesture

17:20 • 15/06

Taner Akçam: Turkey’s apologies for Genocide ‘not enough’ to reinstate historical justice

16:06 • 15/06

Kremlin spokesperson: Too early to talk about Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential summit

15:36 • 15/06

Ucom to launch Viasat Family Channels

15:15 • 15/06

Surveillance video shows man stealing Banksy artwork from Toronto show  

14:00 • 15/06

Stephen Hawking's voice to be beamed into space

13:51 • 15/06

Erdogan blamed for collapse of Turkish Lira  

13:26 • 15/06

Convicted Nagorno-Karabakh former top commander freed (updated)

12:49 • 15/06

Armenia’s permanent representative to ECHR steps down

12:27 • 15/06

Armenia shows democratic reform can triumph even in Russia’s shadow – Washington Post

12:09 • 15/06

Baku 'testing’ Armenian authorities – Russian expert

11:37 • 15/06

Trump and family sued by New York attorney general over alleged charity violations

11:14 • 15/06

Germany migrant row threatens Angela Merkel coalition

10:45 • 15/06

Hraparak: OSCE Minsk Group ‘slowing plans’ to ensure Karabakh’s direct engagement in peace talks

09:42 • 15/06

Trump questioned why allies opposed Russia's annexation of Crimea

09:28 • 15/06

World Cup 2018: Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5-0

09:21 • 15/06

16 killed in Indonesia ferry accident

09:14 • 15/06

Anthony Bourdain cremated in France

17:52 • 14/06

Zohrab Mnatasakanyan holds phone conversation with UK state minister

17:25 • 14/06

Glendale leaders honor Armenian Americans by voting to name street after Artsakh

17:16 • 14/06

Wounded leopard strays Into village in China

17:08 • 14/06

Turkey proposes Russia joint production of missiles

16:51 • 14/06

OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs sum up meetings with Armenian officials

16:24 • 14/06

Armenian prime minister attends unveiling of Hamazasp Babajanyan's bust in Moscow

15:35 • 14/06

Ship carrying 900 migrants docks in Sicily as Italy fights back over row over turning away aid ship with 600 on board

14:19 • 14/06

Nikol Pashinyan visits Armenian church in Moscow (photos, video)

13:36 • 14/06

EU ambassador hails Armenia's progress in Eastern Partnership Project

13:03 • 14/06

Museum seeking world record for largest paper plane

12:58 • 14/06

No 'Party Like A Russian' for Robbie Williams at 2018 World Cup opening

12:53 • 14/06

Bill Clinton's thriller sees fastest fiction sales in two years

12:48 • 14/06

Ten-year-old Hermes Birkin handbag sells for $ 217.000

12:39 • 14/06

Armenian prime minister meets with VTB Bank top official in Moscow

12:12 • 14/06

Armen Sarkissian attends Queen’s Day celebration events at British Embassy

11:52 • 14/06

Turkey’s Erdogan vows to lift state of emergency if re-elected

11:44 • 14/06

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigns after anti-government protests

11:37 • 14/06

Armenian parliament passes State Budget execution bill

11:19 • 14/06

Antarctica loses three trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years

11:06 • 14/06

US lays out terms of North Korea sanctions relief

10:45 • 14/06

Pashinyan, Putin discuss Armenian-Russian relations in Moscow

09:36 • 14/06

Macedonian president says he won't sign 'disastrous' name deal with Greece

09:13 • 14/06

France's National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen hospitalized

17:52 • 13/06

Egypt named safest country in Africa

17:42 • 13/06

Russian, Azerbaijani leaders meet in Moscow  

17:16 • 13/06

Trump says North Korea ‘no longer a nuclear threat’ to US

17:03 • 13/06

Armenia-Artsakh cooperation discussed in Stepanakert

16:49 • 13/06

Meghan Markel's first official role as a member of British monarchy is revealed as she formally becomes part of The Royal Foundation

16:35 • 13/06

Armenian prime minister welcomed at Moscow airport

16:26 • 13/06

US, Canada and Mexico to host 2016 FIFA World Cup

16:12 • 13/06

Armenian court frees civic activists convicted over coup plot

15:35 • 13/06

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs vow strong support to Karabakh peace

14:01 • 13/06

Kim Kardashian jetting to Memphis to meet recently released prisoner for first time

13:39 • 13/06

Armenian political forces 'unanimous' on Artsakh, Genocide recognition – parliament official

13:22 • 13/06

US senator proposes sanctions against Turkey

13:14 • 13/06

Broccoli coffee a day: Australian public health body offers new superfood powder for health-conscious to health-conscious consumers

13:03 • 13/06

Google to face defamation lawsuit over image search results

12:44 • 13/06

Mourinho predicts Ronaldo vs Messi cliffhanger in World Cup final

12:27 • 13/06

Pashinyan to attend 2018 FIFA World Cup opening in Moscow

12:17 • 13/06

Tesla to lay off about 9% of staff amid Musk’s promises to leave Model 3 ramp-up unaffected

12:06 • 13/06

Asian Development Bank ‘committed to assist’ in future reforms in Armenia

11:43 • 13/06

Armenian parliament adopts tax reforms

11:30 • 13/06

Beyonce and Jay-Z tickets 'given away for free in a car park as stars struggle to fill seats for On The Run II tour'

11:10 • 13/06

US, North Korea leaders accept mutual invitations to visit each other's countries

10:58 • 13/06

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan hails OSCE Minsk Group mission's support to Karabakh peace

10:23 • 13/06

Zhamanak: Nikol Pashinyan’s upcoming Moscow trip 'crucial for Armenian-Russian relations'

10:00 • 13/06

Armenian president starts visit to Artsakh Republic

09:39 • 13/06

Armenia’s social welfare minister resigns

09:12 • 13/06

Paris hostages freed after 4-hours standoff

17:10 • 12/06

The 11th “ArmRobotics” Championship Sponsored by Ucom Calls for Applications for Participation

16:00 • 12/06

Why Turkey’s human rights violations won’t end up in court – Washinton Post

15:32 • 12/06

Armenian authorities ‘can be vocal about’ EEU membership concerns - politician

14:41 • 12/06

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is praised by fans for sharing an intimate snap of ‘feeding’ Armenian spouse with dinner

14:08 • 12/06

New Tesla software to offer 'full' autonomy, Elon Musk says

14:01 • 12/06

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner make over $82m outside White House roles