Vladimir Putin widely expected to win a fifth term at upcoming election

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with servicemen at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with servicemen at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. Copyright Mikhail Tereshchenko, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File
Copyright Mikhail Tereshchenko, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File
By Euronews
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With no opposition figures allowed to run against him, the Russian president looks set to keep his grip on power until at least 2030.

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From Friday to Sunday, Russian voters will head to the polls to choose the country’s next president – but the result is not expected to deliver any surprise.

There’s little doubt among international observers that Vladimir Putin, who’s running for his fifth six-year term, will come out victorious. Many of his opponents have been silenced, imprisoned or driven to exile, none have been permitted to stand against him, and independent media outlets that could show criticism of his policies have been blocked.

A victory for the incumbent president would mean that Putin is likely to remain in power until at least 2030, by which time he will be 77 years old.

Despite their predictable outcome, the elections are still being watched closely by those trying to understand where Russia might be headed – and what lies in store for the conflict in Ukraine.

Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming election.

Who can vote?

Any Russian citizen over age 18 who is not in prison on a criminal conviction can vote in the country’s presidential ballot.

According to the country’s Central Election Commission (CEC), there are 112.3 million eligible voters across Russia itself and Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. Another 1.9 million eligible voters live abroad.

Not all of these voters are likely to participate. Turnout in Russia’s last election, in 2018, was 67.5%, although observers and individual voters reported widespread violations, including ballot-box stuffing and forced voting. Turnout in the 2021 parliamentary election, meanwhile, was 51.7%.

A billboard which promotes the upcoming presidential election with words in Russian: "Time to vote" is seen in a street in Donetsk of Russian-controlled Donetsk region.
A billboard which promotes the upcoming presidential election with words in Russian: "Time to vote" is seen in a street in Donetsk of Russian-controlled Donetsk region.AP Photo

How does the voting work?

This is the first time in a Russian presidential election that polls will be open for three days instead of one.

It's also the first presidential election to use online voting. The option will be available in 27 Russian regions and Crimea, which Moscow illegally seized from Ukraine 10 years ago.

The vote will also take place in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson –the four regions of Ukraine officially annexed in 2022, even though Russian forces don’t fully control them.

Early voting in the election started in late February. According to the CEC, almost 740,000 people have cast their ballots since then.

Is Putin the only candidate?

Putin is running as an independent candidate this year, seeking a fifth term in office. He’s only allowed to do that thanks to constitutional changes he pushed through that reset his term limits in 2020.

First elected in 2000 at the height of the second Chechen war, he is now the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin.

Other candidates who will be on the ballot were nominated by Kremlin-friendly parties represented in parliament: Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, Leonid Slutsky of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, and Vladislav Davankov of the New People Party.

They all broadly support Kremlin policies, including the war in Ukraine.

No opposition figures who could have challenged Putin are on the ballot.

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