Published On: Sun, Mar 17th, 2024

Vladimir Putin, autocrat, Russia, elections, democracy, protests | World | News

EVEN an ultranationalist like Leonid Slutsky had no hope of making a dent in Russia‘s elections results, which will today see Vladimir Putin steal his fifth term as president.

Though the 71-year -old – already Russia‘s longest serving leader since Stalin – had three official opponents, the Kremlin was assured that the three-day election would see Russia‘s 108 million eligible voters meeting internal targets of securing an 80 percent turnout with a 70 percent approval rating.

Somehow, the Kremin always seems to match the predictions made by the polling organisations which it controls,” said Yuri Felshtinski, author of ‘From Red Terror to Terrorist State: Russia‘s Secret Service and Its Fight for World Domination’.

“We know how this happens. The task of ensuring there are no irregularities with vote counting has been given to the FSB, and the security services have had three days now to falsely enter the names of people who have stayed away from the ballot box- including those on remote registers.”

He explained how Putin has “stolen every election” since he manipulated Boris Yeltsin to hand over the presidency in 1999.

“In 2000 Putin became President through manipulation of the Russian constitution. Yeltsin vacated his term three months early, and appointed Putin to be acting President. In Russia, the person who is acting president is viewed as the next president. His only opponent were the communists who never poll above 25 percent.

“By 2004 Putin controlled the major TV channels, and financial support was assured by the oil firm Sibneft (now Gazprom Neft) which was owned by Roman Abramovich.

“The Constitution was clear – there was two term consecutive limit for any president. So, in 2008, he named Dmitry Medvedev to become president – he did so – while Putin occupied the role of PM. This allowed him to return as president in 2012, when he extends the term from four years to six years.

“Then he passes a law to allow him to remain president until 2036.

“Since 2008, everything that has happened has been unconstitutional.”

Asked why Putin continues to go through the motions of a sham democracy, Russia expert Ivan Fomin, of Prague’s Charles University, said: “Though Putin is often associated with a multipolar world, his own understanding is still based on a unipolar world, so for Putin it is important that he is at least recognised as being democratic. “

With no real opposition on the ballot, activists – including the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny – had called upon Russians to attend local polling stations at noon today as a sigh of protest.

But Russia‘s arsenal of technological tools to spy on its citizens meant most were expected to stay at home.

“The Russian state has used this technology to identify people during Covid lockdown, anti-war protestors and those who attended Navalny’s funeral,” said Andrei Soldatov of the Centre for European Policy Analysis (Cepa).

“So we should expect the security service to crackdown on anyone intending to protest this weekend.”

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