Nationwide protests are expected to begin today in Russia, after the supreme court declined opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s final appeal
Nationwide protests are expected to begin today in Russia, after the supreme court declined opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s final appeal to be allowed to run in the March presidential election.
Unlikely to face significant opposition, Putin will likely use the remaining candidates as a cover for real campaign competition. Among the 64 approved candidates is Ksenia Sobchak, daughter of a Putin political associate and a means to divide any meaningful electoral challenge that could occur in March. Additionally, with Navalny calling for a boycott of the elections, the opposition is split between supporting him and arguing that doing so would only affirm the Kremlin’s power. This would significantly decrease any chances for a unified challenge to the Kremlin if Putin is elected, or in the post-Putin era.
With Putin’s only meaningful challenger legally disarmed, protests and the opposition movement will likely face seriously questions about their future prospects. Long-term, opposition figures hope to build on their popularity among younger Russians. However, even with current economic difficulties, Putin’s approval ratings remain high. As a result, expect domestic political tension in the short-term as Putin’s popularity comes under strain among younger demographics in major urban centres, but little prospect for a change to the status quo for the March elections.
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