A presidential election is scheduled to take place in Russia on 17 March 2024. Although incumbent President Vladimir Putin has not yet declared his candidacy it is widely assumed that he will run for re-election. Commentators are already convinced that there will be no real alternative to Putin.All true war opponents end up in prison.

In a Facebook post, sociologist Alexander Morozov says it will be impossible for candidates to run with an anti-war agenda:

“Because any statement about the war falls under the articles on extremism or discrediting the army. How can potential candidates such as Boris Nadezhdin or Ekaterina Duntsova speak out against the war when Sasha Skochilenko has just been sentenced to seven years in prison, Tomsk city councillor Ksenia Fadeyeva is in pre-trial detention and Moscow district councillor Alexei Gorinov has also been given a seven-year sentence? And even criticism of the war 'from the right' has led to Igor Girkin's imprisonment. Therefore any anti-war statement by a candidate would be perceived as having been coordinated with the Kremlin, otherwise it would be tantamount to political suicide.”

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A useful rallying around the flag

For The New Times, the main aim of the election is to reaffirm approval for the Kremlin's course:

“Putin really needs this election. It is an opportunity to renew the legitimacy of the leader and his confrontation with the civilised world, as well as to show the minority - by means of a predictably impressive election result - that they are still a minority and cannot go against the will of the majority. The fact that this is not an election but a kind of referendum in the form of acclamation does not bother anyone. ... Rallying around the flag is useful for mobilising voters for Putin and instilling his key propaganda theses in them. And for reminding the elites who is in charge.”

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Only a coup will end his rule

Political scientist Veiko Spolītis speculates in LA.LV about a post-Putin Russia:

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“If we look at the history of Russia, I think we can expect that at some point Putin's days will come to an end a result of an internal coup. That's the only way change can come, because over the last 23 years Putin has destroyed all alternatives to his rule, so there's currently no one in Russia who could take on the responsibility of governing the country. They've all either been expelled, killed or are behind bars. ... Times of change lie ahead, which will perhaps create something like a Russian Federation - because at the moment there is just a centralised unitary state.”

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