Putin likely wins another six-year term: Here’s why the landslide results are criticised as a sham

World News

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have won reelection, Russian officials announced Sunday, reelecting him for another six-year term as democracy experts describe the victory as a sham and elections in the country are neither free nor fair.
Early results show Putin won reelection Sunday with more than 87% of the vote. SPUTNIK, KREMLIN POOL PHOTO VIA AP
Key facts
  • Putin received more than 87% Russia’s Central Election Commission announced Sunday, with half of precincts counted—if he maintains that lead as the remainder of the ballots are counted it will be the most resounding victory he will claim to date.
  • The election, which happened between Friday and Sunday, gave voters three alternatives to Putin, though none of the other candidates on the ballot have spoken out against him nor are they expected to get sizable support from voters.
Chief critic

This weekend’s election did see some rare pushback from voters who wanted to publicly question the legitimacy of this election. Some voters participated in a “Noon Against Putin” protest Sunday afternoon organized by associates of Alexei Navalny.

Large crowds were reportedly seen at polling locations across the country and polling sites at Russian embassies and consulates around the world.

Long lines at polling sites in Russia follow a call from Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Navalny, to dissent against Putin and his ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The protest was one Navalny supported before the renowned Putin critic suddenly died in prison last month while serving a 19-year sentence. Navalny had sought to run against Putin in the last national election in 2018, but his candidacy was barred.

Key background

Experts have long said that Russian elections under Putin’s rule are neither free nor fair. Putin, who was initially elected in 2000, has managed to change laws to ensure he stays in power as long as possible.

In 2021, he signed legislation into law that would allow him to potentially stay in power until 2036.

Freedom House, a global democracy watchdog, said that continued reign has been made possible by “preferential media treatment, numerous abuses of incumbency, and procedural irregularities during the vote count.”

Those who speak out against Putin have a history of being punished or even killed for doing so. Protesting the Kremlin and its policies is also heavily restricted.

In 2022, a month after Putin invaded Ukraine, the legislature passed a bill criminalizing anti-war protests. Since then, arrests and prison sentences for dissenters have become increasingly common.

Freedom House said Putin dissenters are “frequently targeted with fabricated criminal cases and other forms of administrative harassment designed to prevent their participation in the political process.”

Big number

86%. That’s Putin’s approval rating as of February, according to a Levada Center poll, though many have questioned how accurate approval ratings can be in an autocratic country, where citizens fear being openly critical.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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