Kremlin power apparatus: Putin may be re-elected

Putin, 71, is seeking a fifth term in office. The Central Election Commission did not allow the opposition candidates to participate in the polling. Putin, who has been in power for nearly a quarter of a century and has waged a war of aggression against Ukraine for more than two years, is promoting the election as a vote on “the future of Russia.” Above all, he portrays the war against Ukraine as a struggle against the West for supremacy.

Russia has eleven time zones. The election begins in the Far East and ends at 7pm CET on Sunday, ending in the Baltic Sea dig of Kaliningrad in the west. In total, more than 112 million people in Russia were invited to vote – including 4.5 million people in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson, which were annexed in violation of international law. In addition, there are about two million voters in other countries.

APA/AFP

Endorsed by Vladimir Putin and his three bogus candidates

London: Pressure on voters in occupied territories

Fake votes in the occupied territories are against international law and therefore not recognized internationally. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reiterated this on Thursday. Voting has already started there. There have been reports of Ukrainians being forced to vote, sometimes in the presence of heavily armed Russian soldiers.

In addition to Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson, Moscow is organizing votes in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, annexed in 2014. According to British estimates, the Kremlin will report high turnouts in occupied territories in Ukraine and press accordingly. Although there can be no question of free choice, it is intended to give the appearance of a democratic decision.

People vote in Russian elections in Mariupol

Reuters/Alexander Ermochenko

People vote in the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol, Ukraine

Pressure on employees of big companies too

As with previous votes, large-scale fraud is not expected in the occupied territories this time around – as there will be no on-site monitoring by independent international election observers. Online voting is considered particularly vulnerable to manipulation, which is why Kremlin critics advise Russians against it.

Note that

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Golos, an independent election watchdog that has been branded a “foreign agent” in Russia for years, has pointed to another pattern of manipulation. In individual regions, early “mass” pressure is being put on employees of large, partially state-owned enterprises so that they can vote, thereby increasing voter turnout, according to a recently published report.

Navalny's death blow to resistance

Independent observers also point out that many genuine opposition politicians have fled abroad or have been arrested in Russia and sometimes given harsh prison terms.

The death of Alexei Navalny, a jailed Kremlin dissident who a few years ago wanted to become a presidential candidate, caused particular horror in mid-February.

Flowers at Navalny's grave

Reuters

Grave of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

Navalnaya: Putin is a gangster

Shortly before the presidential election, his widow, opposition politician Yulia Navalnaya, called for the Kremlin not to recognize the president's re-election. “Putin is not a politician, he is a gangster,” Navalnaya wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post. For a mafia boss, his position is important and that is why he should be denied international recognition.

Yulia Navalnaya

AP/yulia_navalnaya Twitter channel

Opposition activist Yulia Navalnaya takes on the role of murdered husband Alexei Navalny

“Unfortunately, many people in the West still see him as a legitimate political leader, discuss his ideology and look for the political meaning of his actions,” Navalnaya said.

A call to protest on Sunday afternoon

She argued how widespread voices critical of the government were demonstrated by the thousands of people who visited her husband's grave in Moscow. Navalnaya wants to continue her husband's political fight. He also called on the people of Russia to vote on Sunday afternoon. “Bolton Protiv Putina” is the catchy slogan – “Lunch against Putin”. Expected queues will be a symbol of resistance that the authorities will not give any chance to attack.

Crowds at Navalny's funeral

Reuters

Thousands gathered to bid farewell to Navalny

The result is almost certain

Meanwhile, pollsters close to the Kremlin were bracing Russians for a big electoral victory for Putin after the opposition was excluded. According to a survey of eligible voters, Putin could expect 82 percent of the vote, polling firm Vziom said in Moscow on Monday.

The three contenders, who either openly support Putin or are clearly aligned with the Kremlin, are considered unlikely to each receive five or six percent of the vote. According to the survey, 71 percent voting is expected.

People in Moscow

AP/Dmitry Serebryakov

Election advertising in Moscow

An expression of self-confidence of the power apparatus

State opinion polls in Russia are seen above all as an important tool for the power apparatus to measure the effectiveness of Kremlin propaganda, for example in the state media. According to observers, Kremlin-controlled state television, used mainly by many older Russians in rural areas, has a strong influence on public thinking. Putin has traditionally been portrayed as having no alternative there.

Russia election: Putin has no serious competition

Elections will be held in Russia this weekend. No surprises are to be expected. Even counter-candidates critical of the Kremlin and the war were not allowed. The three opposition candidates allowed show that this is not a genuine election.

If Putin gets more than 80 percent of the vote, it will be his highest ever in a presidential election. It can also be seen as an expression of high self-confidence on the part of the power apparatus. In 2018 he got 76.7 percent of the votes against 67.5 percent.

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