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Putin's perpetual electoral success


Amidst the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has emerged as the clear frontrunner and ultimate victor.

As Russians participate in the March 15-17 election, the 71-year-old former KGB lieutenant colonel is enjoying significant popularity due to strong support for the war in Ukraine.

"I am in favour of Putin and, naturally, I intend to vote for him," expressed Lyudmila Petrova, a 46-year-old shopper at a bustling wholesale market in southern Moscow, where she was browsing through a wide selection of Chinese-made imitation New Balance trainers.

"Putin has significantly improved Russia's standing." Russia is predicted to emerge victorious over the Western powers and Ukraine. Petrova confidently stated that Russia is an unconquerable force. "Have you in the West lost all sense of reason?" What should Ukraine do with you?

Western perspectives on Putin are highly critical, portraying him as an authoritarian leader with a questionable track record. U.S. President Joe Biden, for instance, recently referred to him as a "crazy SOB" and accused him of running a corrupt dictatorship that is detrimental to Russia's strategic interests.

However, the conflict in Russia has proven advantageous for Putin, allowing him to consolidate his control over the country and garner increased support from the Russian population, as indicated by various polls and insights from high-ranking Russian officials.

"Rest assured, this is a position that guarantees long-term stability," stated a prominent Russian individual with deep insights into the inner workings of the Kremlin. Speaking to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, he shared his insights on political matters.

"Putin has no rivals - he operates on a whole other level." It was a grave error on the part of the West to unite a significant portion of the Russian elite and population behind Putin through the implementation of sanctions and the demonization of Russia.

According to a senior Russian source, Putin's leadership is primarily influenced by his robust health rather than political considerations. There is no clear successor in sight.

In February 2022, a full-scale invasion of Ukraine was initiated by Putin, following eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine involving Kyiv's forces, pro-Russian Ukrainians, and Russian proxies.

The loss of life among soldiers has been devastating, with tens of thousands killed and many more left wounded. Tragically, this conflict has also taken a heavy toll on Ukrainian civilians, with thousands losing their lives. The economic and infrastructural damage inflicted upon Ukraine is staggering, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars.

According to experts, the West has been providing Ukraine with significant amounts of aid, weapons, and high-level intelligence due to concerns about Putin's perceived threat extending far beyond the former Soviet Union. Some Western leaders have accused Putin of engaging in a forceful military campaign to re-establish Russia's influence on the world stage.

The on-going conflict with the West

Putin frames the war as a crucial struggle against a weakening and morally corrupt West, which he believes has disrespected Russia since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 by infringing on what he perceives as Moscow's area of control, including Ukraine.

This resonates with many Russians who doubt the politics and motives of the West, if not its consumer products. High-ranking Kremlin officials, a few of them wearing sweatshirts that display "Putin's Team," openly discuss the possibility of a conflict with NATO.

According to Levada Centre, a respected Russian pollster, Putin's approval rating has risen to 86% from 71% just before the invasion of Ukraine. Putin's popularity surged during the 2008 conflict with Georgia and the 2014 takeover of Crimea from Ukraine.

Russian television and a sophisticated social media operation portray Putin as a strong patriot while criticizing Western leaders like Biden for their perceived weaknesses, lack of wisdom, and dishonesty.

"Russia is engaged in a long-standing battle with the West, according to Alexei Levinson, head of sociocultural research at Levada. Many Russians, influenced by propaganda and their own beliefs, see the current events as just another chapter in this on-going struggle," Levinson explained to Reuters.

"The individuals who voice these sentiments in our surveys perceive themselves as active participants in this on-going conflict with the West. They resemble football fans who believe they are active participants in the football match.

Some individuals within Russia's elite harbour doubts about the war's prosecution. However, they find themselves in a precarious position as opposing the Kremlin would result in significant losses, as demonstrated by the unsuccessful mutiny led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary Wagner group, in 2023.

On August 25, Prigozhin's plane unfortunately crashed, precisely two months after the mutiny took place.

Putin is taking every precaution. Following the full-scale invasion, authorities have taken strict measures to suppress any form of opposition. Many individuals have been detained for dissent, while demonstrations have been prohibited.

Russian state media, which strongly allegiates to Putin, dominates the country's airwaves. The objective of the three competing candidates is to ensure their defeat. All of their approval ratings are extremely low.

An electoral official advised Boris Nadezhdin, an anti-war candidate who was disqualified despite receiving significant signatures to register, to reflect on his shortcomings instead of expressing grievances.

The Kremlin's primary focus is to guarantee significant voter participation. According to six sources, certain managers at state companies have allegedly instructed employees to vote and provide photographic evidence of their ballot papers. It is interesting to note that even cash machines in Russia are reminding people to vote.

The leaders of Russia's fragmented opposition are currently facing various challenges, which have resulted in their absence from the political scene.

Russia's most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, passed away on February 16 in the "Polar Wolf" Arctic penal colony, according to the prison service. Yulia, the widow, is urging Russians to gather at polling stations on March 17 at noon to express their opposition.

Navalny has described Putin's Russia as a fragile criminal state governed by individuals who prioritize personal gain over everything else. He had predicted that Russia might experience significant political upheaval, potentially even a revolution.

When questioned about Putin's strength, Leonid Volkov, a key aide to Navalny, drew an interesting comparison. He remarked, "Dinosaurs were mighty creatures but eventually faced extinction."

Following his interview with Reuters in Vilnius, Volkov reported being attacked with a hammer, an incident that Lithuania attributed to Russia. The Kremlin did not comment on the incident.

Emerging from court after receiving a 2-1/2 year prison sentence for "discrediting the armed forces," Oleg Orlov, a seasoned Russian rights activist, drew a striking comparison between Putin's Russia and the surreal worlds depicted in the works of Franz Kafka or Vladimir Sorokin.

"The individuals responsible for the current state of our country embody a sense of out datedness and irrelevance," Orlov remarked.

"Their lack of foresight is evident as they cling to distorted versions of history and delusions of grandeur." They are causing Russia to regress, returning it to a dystopian state.

The topic at hand is "Blood and Treasure.

The war resulted in a significant loss of Russian lives, and the Russian army and security services were unable to achieve a swift and successful outcome. Additionally, the mobilization of 2022 caused fear and unease among specific population segments.

Despite the impact of Western sanctions, Russia's economy has remained resilient. Putin's strategic move to reduce the number of Russian soldiers has been effective, and he has also strengthened Russia's ties with China, positioning the country towards a powerful alliance.

According to data, Russia's economy grew by 3.6% last year, accompanied by a significant increase of 7.8% in real wages. However, the country is grappling with challenges such as labor shortages, lack of investment, and a declining population.

According to three Russian sources, it is believed that Putin is confident in Russia's ability to maintain a presence in Ukraine for an extended period, surpassing that of the United States.

"War can have certain economic benefits in the short term," stated an unidentified Russian source. Putin can continue his fight for as long as he desires.

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