April 13, 2024

Westside People

Complete News World

Five tips from Putin's victory in Russia

Five tips from Putin's victory in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from the three-day presidential election that ended Sunday declaring his landslide victory a general mandate to act as needed in the war in Ukraine as well as on various domestic matters, raising concern among Russians about what comes next.

Putin said the vote represented a desire for “internal integration” that would allow Russia to “act effectively on the front line” as well as in other areas, such as the economy.

The government rejected a protest organized by the embattled Russian opposition, in which people expressed their opposition by flooding polling stations at noon. A correspondent for the state-run Rossiya 24 channel said that “the provocations at the polling stations were nothing more than mosquito bites.” Official commentators noted that the lines showed enthusiasm for democratic participation.

Mr. Putin, 71, will now remain president until at least 2030, entering a fifth term in a country whose constitution ostensibly limits the number of presidents to just two. The vote, the first since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, was designed to create a general authorization for the war and restore Mr. Putin's image as the embodiment of stability. However, Russians are somewhat uneasy about the changes the vote might bring.

Here are five takeaways:

There is a pattern to the presidential votes in which Putin participates: his results get better every time. In 2012, he received 63.6 percent of the vote, and in 2018, after presidential terms were extended to six years, he received 76.7 percent. Pundits had expected the Kremlin to peg the result at about 80% this time, but Mr. Putin got a higher percentage, closer to 90%, although the count was not yet final.

Loyal opposition parties barely registered. None of the other three candidates who were allowed to run in the elections received more than five percent of the votes.

See also  Pope Francis describes "innuendos" against John Paul II as unfounded

Presidential elections in Russia have long been a way to make the entire system appear legitimate. But such a large margin of victory for Putin – who rewrote the constitution to allow him to remain in the Kremlin until 2036, when he will be 83 – threatens to undermine that. This may raise questions in the increasingly authoritarian Kremlin about why Russia needs such a fantasy exercise.

Putin always seeks to project an image of political stability and control, which carefully crafted presidential votes are intended to polish. But there were three events linked to opposition politics that tarnished that picture this time.

The first was in January, when thousands of Russians lined up across the country to sign the necessary petitions to put Boris Nadezhdin, a previously unknown politician who opposed the war in Ukraine, on the ballot. The Kremlin kept him out of it.

Then Alexei Navalny, Putin's most powerful political opponent, died suddenly in an Arctic prison in February. Thousands of mourners who attended his funeral in Moscow chanted against Mr. Putin and the war, and even during the vote, mourners continued to lay flowers on his grave.

Navalny's organization had supported voters' plan to turn out in large numbers at noon, in a silent protest against Putin and the war. Mr. Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, who cast her ballot at the Russian embassy in Berlin, said she had written her husband's name on her ballot and thanked all who waited in long lines as part of the protest.

Putin's campaign, and the vote itself, have been affected by the war. His announcement last December that he was running for another term came in response to a question from a war veteran who appealed to him to run. The election symbol, a blue, white and red check mark of the Russian flag, resembles the letter V that is sometimes used to show support for Russian soldiers.

Voting took place in the occupied regions of Ukraine, although Russia does not fully control the four regions it annexed. There were elements of coercion, with polling station workers sometimes bringing ballot boxes to people's homes accompanied by an armed soldier. In the occupied territories, Putin's margin of victory was higher than his counterpart in Russia itself.

Putin has never admitted that he started the war by invading Ukraine. Rather, he says he had to launch a “special military operation” to prevent the West from using Ukraine as a Trojan horse to undermine Russia.

He described the turnout in the elections, which exceeded 74% of more than 112 million registered voters, as “due to the fact that we are literally forced, with weapons in our hands, to protect the interests of our citizens.” “Our people.”

With an estimated 40 percent of public spending allocated to military spending, the economy grew by 3.6 percent in 2023, according to government statistics. The production of ammunition and other equipment is booming.

Putin also proposed that veterans form the core of a “new elite” to run the country, because their service demonstrated their commitment to Russia’s best interests. This proposal is expected to accelerate the trend of government officials expressing strong patriotism, especially as Putin seeks to replace his older allies with a younger generation.

The period following any presidential election is when the Kremlin typically implements unpopular policies. After 2018, for example, Putin raised the retirement age. Russians wonder whether new military mobilization or increased internal repression may be imminent.

Putin has repeatedly denied that another mobilization is needed, but recent small territorial gains in eastern Ukraine are believed to have cost tens of thousands of casualties. Although Mr. Putin has indicated that he is ready for peace talks, neither side has so far shown much flexibility.

Russia has annexed more than 18% of Ukrainian territory, and the battle lines have remained static for months. Any new Russian attack is expected to take place during the warm, dry summer months, and the Russian army may attempt to increase the amount of territory it controls before any future negotiations.

“The decisions will more likely be about war than peace, and more likely military than social or even economic,” said Ekaterina Shulman, a Russian political scientist who lives in exile in Berlin.

Milana Mazaeva Contributed to reports.