Vladimir Putin will win the 2024 Russian presidential election


President Vladimir Putin is preparing to tighten his grip on the country he has ruled since the turn of the century. of Russia The stage-managed election marks a predictable big win for the Kremlin leader, a foregone conclusion.

Putin was leading with 87.3% of the vote, with half the votes counted, according to preliminary results announced by Russia's Central Election Commission (CEC) on Sunday.

As a result, Putin will rule until at least 2030, when he will be 77 years old. Russia's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, he will serve his third full decade in power.

Since launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, most opposition candidates are dead, jailed, exiled or barred from running — and with dissent effectively banned in Russia — Putin has not faced a credible challenge to his rule.

The result is inevitable – Putin's spokesman said last year's referendum was “not really democracy” but “costly bureaucracy” – Nevertheless, the election ritual is vital to the Kremlin as a means of consolidating Putin's power.

Before the law was changed in 2008 to extend the presidential term to six years, the ritual was held every four years. Later constitutional changes removed presidential term limits, allowing Putin to remain in power until 2036.

In a victory lap at his election headquarters late Sunday, Putin said the election had “consolidated” national unity and that Russia had “a lot of work ahead” in its confrontation with the West.

“Whoever tries to intimidate us, whoever tries to suppress us, our will, our spirit, no one in history could have done this to us, it will not happen now, it will never happen. In future. Never,” he said.

Putin's fiercest opponents have died in recent months.

After leading an unsuccessful uprising in June, Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was killed two months later in a plane crash en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The Kremlin denied any involvement in Prigogine's death.

Elections were held a month later Alexei Navalny, Putin's most formidable opponent, died in an Arctic penal colony. Russia's prison service said he “became ill after the walk” and lost consciousness, later saying his death was of natural causes. The Kremlin had nothing to do with his poisoning or death.

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In his Sunday evening speech, Putin made an unprecedented break with his tradition of not mentioning Navalny by name, discussing his death, and confirming the debates. Potential prisoner transfers An opposition figure is involved. Navalny's allies previously said they were “days away” from being exchanged before his death.

“As for Mr. Navalny – yes, he passed away. It's always a sad event. There were other cases when people died in prisons. Didn't this happen in America? It wasn't a one-off,” he said.

Days before Navalny's death, Putin said it was proposed to exchange him for prisoners held in Western countries. “The person who spoke to me when I said I agree didn't finish his sentence,” Putin said. “But, unfortunately, that's what happened [Navalny’s death] happened There was only one condition that we would change him so that he would not come back. Let him sit there. Well, things like this happen. There's nothing you can do about it, that's life. ”

Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, waits in line outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin, Germany on March 17, 2024 at noon local time.

Navalny's widow, Yulia Navalnaya, urged Russians to protest collectively on Sunday, the final day of voting in Russia's 11 time zones and 88 federal subjects. Initially, the Kremlin warned against unauthorized gatherings.

A CNN crew in Moscow saw the line outside a polling station grow rapidly by midday. “Noon Against Putin” demonstrations Inspired by Navalny. One woman waiting in line told CNN: “This is the first time in my life I've seen a line for an election.” Asked why she came at that time, she replied: “You know why. I think everyone in this row knows why.

Similar protests were held at Russian embassies across Europe, with large crowds gathering around midday in London, Paris and elsewhere. Navalnaya attended a demonstration in Berlin, queuing with other voters to protest.

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The election was further marred by acts of graphic violence. As of Saturday, Russia has filed at least 15 criminal cases against the people He poured dye into the ballot boxes, polling stations were set on fire or Molotov cocktails were thrown. Ella Pamfilova, head of Russia's CEC, said 29 polling stations in 20 regions in Russia were targeted, including eight arson attempts.


Voters wait in line at a polling station in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 17, 2024, at noon local time.

Russia held presidential elections in all four Ukrainian regions it annexed during its full-scale invasion. Ukraine said the elections violated international law and would be designated “null and void.”

Russian-installed authorities in occupied Ukraine recorded more than 80% of the vote. But there is evidence of voter persuasion. Russian Telegram channels showed Russian soldiers going door-to-door with election officials to collect votes.

A video from Luhansk showed an elderly woman filling out a ballot paper in her apartment and putting it in a ballot box, while a man in military fatigues stood over her with a gun on his chest.

After preliminary results were released Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Putin a “dictator” and Russia's election a “fake.”

“As has often happened in history, this person is simply sick of power, and it is clear to everyone in the world that he is doing everything in his power to rule for life. There is no evil that he does not do to prolong his personal power. There is no one in the world who would object to this,” Zelensky said.

The election comes after more than two years of war, which has taken a heavy toll on the Russian people. The Kremlin keeps its casualty figures secret, but Western officials believe more than 300,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded on Ukraine's battlefields.

He answered a reporter's question on Sunday French President Emmanuel Macron Putin suggested last month that he would not rule out sending European troops to Ukraine, saying such a move would be “a step towards World War III”.

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Dmitry Lavtsky/AP

A man leaves a polling station at a polling station in St. Petersburg on March 16, 2024.

Putin's invasion has reshaped the world's post-Cold War geopolitical axis, prompting the West to view Russia as a superpower after decades of more cordial relations. The war has also shrunk Putin's world after the International Criminal Court last year issued an arrest warrant for him for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, forcing more than 100 countries to arrest the Russian leader if he ever set foot on their soil.

But the war has also opened up new avenues for Russia to forge new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. Russia's ties to China, North Korea and Iran, which have not condemned the invasion, have deepened, and Putin has sought to court countries in the global South as he presents a vision of a world not led by the West.

Putin's critics accuse him of inventing foreign policy problems to distract from his government's inability to solve Russia's myriad domestic problems, from low life expectancy to widespread poverty.

When the climate of Russia occurred Obstacles More imposed by the West than expected, the conflict has diverted its economy by draining resources into military production. Inflation has soared, basic goods like eggs have become unaffordable, and tens of thousands of young professionals have left the country.

It is difficult to gauge public opinion in authoritarian countries like Russia, where surveillance agencies operate under strict surveillance and many are afraid to criticize the Kremlin.

But the Levada Center, a nongovernmental polling organization, reports that nearly half of Russians strongly support war in Ukraine, and more than three-quarters somewhat. Levada also reports Putin's approval rating at over 80% — a figure virtually unknown among Western politicians and a significant increase compared to the three years before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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