International News

Russia Elects Putin To Record 5th Term

Ashley Snyder

Vladimir Putin has won a record 5th term as President of Russia.

Second only to Catherine the Great as Russia’s longest serving leader, President Putin has now been in a position of power for 24 years. Serving as president since 2000, except for a four-year period when he served as prime minister due to Russia’s two-term limit, Putin has now ensured another six years in charge.

Putin has already taken steps to change the rules of Russia’s two-term limit. This means Putin can run again in 2030 for another six-year term if he chooses, by which time he will be 78.

The Kremlin made voting this year easier than ever before

The Kremlin was determined to make the 2024 election seem as free and fair as possible. With the goal of improving upon the 68% voter turnout record in 2018, the Kremlin made voting this year easier than ever before, resulting in turnout estimates for 2024 hitting 74% as polls were closing. This year, with online voting and opening polls 10 days early in areas of occupied Ukraine, the Kremlin can try to claim a legitimate election.

While it was widely recognised prior to the election that Putin would win, the Kremlin did allow three other candidates to run, although none of them openly opposed Putin or the war in Ukraine in their campaigns. Nikolai Kharitonov, representing the Communist party, placed second in the polls, receiving nearly 4% of the votes, Vladislav Davankov of the New People party placed third, and Leonid Slutsky of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia placed fourth.

Russia’s election authorities barred Nadezhdin from running

The only candidate who offered any opposition to Putin was Boris Nadezhdin. Nadezhdin frequented state TV talk shows to share his criticism of the war in Ukraine, something no other candidate dared to do. Despite thousands queuing to offer signatures in support of his campaign, Russia’s election authorities barred Nadezhdin from running, claiming that over 15% of the signatures he received were forged.

Countries with friendly ties to Russia were quick to celebrate Putin’s win, with congratulations rolling in from leaders such as President Xi Jinping of China and Kim Jong Un of North Korea. Leaders from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan also offered their congratulations.

Other countries are refusing to regard the election as free or fair. German officials called Russia a dictatorship. US National Security spokesman John Kirby said “the elections are obviously not free nor fair given how Mr. Putin has imprisoned political opponents and prevented others from running against him”. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Cameron posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the election was “not what free and fair elections look like”. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis added that the weekend of voting “definitely cannot be called an election”.

At least 15 criminal cases were filed against people for acts

In open acts of opposition, some Russians showed their discontent. Over the three days of voting, at least 15 criminal cases were filed against people for acts such as pouring dye into ballot boxes, starting fires, and throwing Molotov cocktails at polling stations. Russia’s electoral commission reported that attempts to spoil ballot papers were reported at 29 polling stations. According to the head of the Electoral Commission Ella Pamfilova, 214 ballot boxes were irretrievably damaged. CCTV from more than one polling station showed women pouring green dye into ballot boxes; the green dye representing support for the late Alexei Navalny, who had green dye thrown at him during an anti-government protest in 2017 which left the vision in his left eye damaged.

In a quieter manner of protest, thousands of voters turned up for “Noon against Putin” on Sunday, the final day of voting. Before his passing, Navalny encouraged voters to show up to polls to vote at noon on Sunday with the aim of helping those opposed to the election to see that they were not alone in the way they felt; lines at polling stations did appear to increase around noon.

Only time will tell how Putin plans to use his power.

Ashley Snyder

Featured image courtesy of Dmitry Ant via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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