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Putin’s Landslide Victory: Unpacking Russia’s Election Without Rivals

Vladimir Putin

Russia’s election on Sunday saw President Vladimir Putin win in a record-breaking post-Soviet landslide, solidifying his already firm hold on power and demonstrating that Moscow was correct to defy the West and send soldiers into Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin, a former lieutenant colonel in the KGB who came to power in 1999, made it plain that the outcome should serve as a warning to the West’s leaders that, in peace or conflict, they will have to deal with a more powerful Russia for many years to come.

As a result, Putin, 71, will begin a new six-year term that, should he finish, will surpass Josef Stalin’s record of 200 years as Russia’s longest-serving leader.

According to an exit survey conducted by the Pollster Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), Putin received 87.8% of the vote, the highest percentage of any candidate in Russia’s post-Soviet history. Putin was ranked at 87% by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM). According to the initial official findings, the polls were correct. Due to censorship and the imprisonment of political opponents, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and other countries have declared that the vote was neither free nor fair.

Partial results indicated that ultra-nationalist Leonid Slutsky came in fourth, rookie Vladislav Davankov came in third, and communist contender Nikolai Kharitonov came in second with a little less than 4%.

In a victory address delivered in Moscow, Putin assured supporters that he would bolster the Russian military and give priority to finishing tasks related to what he described as Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Many jobs lie ahead of us. However, Putin stated, “Nobody has ever succeeded in history, they are not succeeding now, and they will never succeed in the future when we are consolidated, no matter who wants to intimidate and suppress us.”

When Putin took the stage, his admirers chanted, “Putin, Putin, Putin,” and once he finished his acceptance speech, they chanted, “Russia, Russia, Russia.”

Thousands of opponents of Putin demonstrated against him at polling places both domestically and internationally at noon, spurred on by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who passed away in an Arctic prison last month.

Putin told reporters that he believed the election in Russia was democratic and that Navalny’s protest against him had no impact on the outcome of the vote.

He added that Navalny’s demise had been a “sad event” in his initial remarks following his death, and he affirmed that he had been prepared to carry out a prisoner swap, including the opposition figure.

In response to a query about whether NBC, a US TV network, conducted his reelection democratically, Putin criticized the American political and legal systems.

He declared, “The entire world is laughing at what is happening (in the United States).” “This is not a democracy; this is just a disaster.”

Is it democratic to utilize the court system, among other administrative tools, to disparage a presidential candidate in the United States? Inquiring about four criminal charges against Republican nominee Donald Trump, he seemed to be referring to them.

The Russian election takes place a little more than two years after Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which set off the worst conflict in Europe since World War Two.

Since Ukraine has been attacking Russian oil refineries, shelling Russian areas, and attempting to cross Russian borders with proxies, Putin has threatened to punish them. This has cast a shadow over the three-day election.

Putin stated that in order to stop such attacks in the future, Russia could have to establish a buffer zone inside Ukraine.

Given his dominance over Russia and the lack of serious opponents, Putin’s reelection appeared certain, but the former KGB operative wanted to demonstrate the enormous support of Russians.

When the polls closed at 1800 GMT, the national turnout was 74.22%, exceeding the 67.5% recorded in 2018, according to election officials.

The number of Russians who participated in the opposition marches, which were well guarded by tens of thousands of police and security personnel, was not independently calculated. Russia has 114 million voters.

At midday, Reuters journalists witnessed long lines of several hundred or perhaps thousands of people at polling places in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg, as voters, particularly younger ones, began to arrive.

Even though there were few obvious indicators that set them apart from other voters, some claimed to be protesting.

Russia saw at least 74 arrests on Sunday, according to OVD-Info, a watchdog organization that tracks the repression of opposition.

There have been sporadic protests over the past two days, with some Russians setting voting booths on fire or pouring green dye inside ballot boxes. Opponents shared images of altered ballots with anti-Putin inscriptions.

However, the opposition has lost its most powerful leader with Navalny’s passing, and other significant opposition members are either dead, imprisoned, or abroad.

The West portrays Putin as a murderer and an authoritarian. Putin, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, intended to rule for ever, and the vote was invalid.

Putin frames the conflict as a centuries-old struggle against a collapsing West that, in his words, degraded Russia by intruding upon its sphere of influence following the Cold War.

According to Western intelligence chiefs, Russia’s election represents a turning point for the West and the conflict in Ukraine.

Ahead of the presidential election in November, support for Ukraine is entangled with domestic American politics.

Despite Kyiv’s 2022 invasion recapture, Russian forces had advanced following the previous year’s futile Ukrainian counteroffensive.


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