Despite not yet declaring his intention to take part in the March 2024 presidential election, recent media reports suggest preparations for what will almost certainly be a successful campaign for President Putin are already underway.
The Kommersant business daily news site reported on Monday that the Kremlin has begun compiling a list of influential figures that would form a “surrogate initiative group” to support his campaign.
Citing several anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the news agency suggests that Putin, rather than aligning himself with the ruling United Russia party, will run as an independent as he did in 2018.
Another source said that “He’s a president for all,” adding that his support will “transcend party politics.”
Kommersant goes on to say that those being considered all have “positive” reputations and “influence among their audience.”
Officially, Putin himself has said he that would announce whether or not he would run for a fifth term in office once the country's parliament formally calls a presidential election in December.
Victory, which is already a foregone conclusion, would keep him in office until 2030. 2020s constitutional reforms would allow Putin to serve for another two terms beyond his current presidency which in theory would keep him in office until 2036 when he would be 84.
And while he might not have publicly committed to standing again, he’s already taken steps which suggest he’s seriously thinking about it.
Amendments to election laws
Putin signed an amendment to the law governing the conduct of the election that was approved by the State Duma on Oct. 25 and endorsed by the Federation Council on Nov. 8 and was released on Russia’s legal information portal today.
The amendments allow presidential elections to be held if martial law is introduced in any region at any time during or after the elections are scheduled.
It also addresses how the election will be funded and allows co-financing using federal, regional and local budgets.
The amended law addresses the rules for photo and video filming at polling stations, which can now only be carried out by those individuals who are legally authorized to do so.
This is likely to be a reaction to video evidence captured at polling stations during the 2018 election which showed widespread, barefaced instances of ballot-stuffing - electoral workers shoving handfuls of ballots into collection boxes.
The law on the calling of Russian presidential elections is quite specific, it must be made no earlier than 100 and no later than 90 days before the legal end of the President’s current tenure in mid-March.
This indicates that the Federation Council must make the announcement between Dec. 8 and 18, with Dec. 13 being the “bookies favorite” for announcement day, according to Ria Novosti.
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