Russia to hold presidential election on March 17


MOSCOW: Russia’s upper house of parliament has announced March 17 as the date for the country’s presidential election. Vladimir Putin is widely expected to run for a fifth term in the upcoming vote.
Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, on Thursday voted unanimously to approve a decree setting the day of the country’s next presidential election for March 17.

Incumbent 71-year-old President Vladimir Putin has not yet announced his intention to run again, but he is widely expected to do so soon, having promoted constitutional changes that make him eligible to seek two more six-year terms after the current one expires next year.

Almost certain Putin’s victory

If Putin does win and complete another term, he will become the longest-serving leader of Russia since Empress Catherine the Great in the 18th century, breaking dictator Josef Stalin’s previous record.

He has been in power either as president or prime minister since 2000.

Putin’s tight control over the political system in Russia means that his victory is all but assured, with those who could effectively oppose him either in jail or living abroad.

He enjoys constantly high approval ratings in independent polls despite having plunged his country into a costly, drawn-out war with Ukraine and having suffered what appears to have been a failed rebellion by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

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Meager opposition

Two people have so far announced plans to run for the presidency against Putin.

One is former lawmaker Boris Nadezhdin, who holds a seat on a municipal council in the Moscow region; the other is Yekaterina Duntsova, a journalist and lawyer from the Tver region.

Unless they are nominated by one of the five parties represented in the State Duma, however, they will have to gather tens of thousands of signatures across several regions to even make it onto the ballot.

Voters are likely to be able to vote online as well as per traditional paper ballots in about 30 Russian regions. The election could be extended across three days, a practice that was adopted during the pandemic and widely criticized by independent election monitors.

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