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Vladimir Putin’s next term in office

This year’s election for president of the Russian Federation took place in mid-March. The victory, along with a constitutional amendment introduced in 2020, enabled Vladimir Putin to begin his third consecutive and fifth term in total. It is therefore worth taking a look at how Polish experts assess the election result in the context of Russia’s future policy, both in terms of the country’s interior politics and international relations.

Dr Agnieszka Legucka, an expert at the Polish Institute of International Affairs and participant of the EU-LISTCO research program under Horison2020, emphasizes the manipulated nature of said elections. She also dives into the huge involvement of the internal and special services, as well as the fact that the two potentially strongest anti-Putin candidates – Boris Nadezhdin and Ekaterina Duncova – were not allowed to run in the elections [1]. In her view, the outcome of the election – if a rigged one – demonstrates the consolidation of Putin’s position at the top of the power scale [1]. 

Reading the analysis of the aforementioned expert, one can come to the conclusion that the election result is in a sense an effect, not a cause, of the cementing of power. After all, as Dr. Legucka mentions, “getting” 87% in the elections came after the assassinations of rebel Yevgeny Prigozhin and dissident Alexei Navalny [1]. The election result can therefore be seen as a symbol of the current power center’s ultimate subjugation of any anti-Putin sentiments.

Moreover, in the already cited PISM bulletin we can find information on the renewed social oath between the people of the Russian Federation and Vladimir Putin. Among other things, the bulletin mentions the allocation of $29 million for social purposes and additional social privileges for fighting soldiers [1]. According to D. Legucka, Putin’s current term in office will lead to even further militarization of social life, and a society inflated by war propaganda will turn even more towards the person of the president [1].

Anna Maria Dyner, also an expert at the Polish Institute of International Affairs and a graduate of the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program organized by the U.S. State Department, is devoted to Russia’s foreign and security policy. She recalls Putin’s words from the election campaign, according to which Russia will continue to pursue the goals of the war in Ukraine, including the complete integration of the already occupied territories, changing the government in Kiev and preventing its further integration into the EU and NATO [2]. The expert also points towards Russia’s long-term goals, made public even before the start of a full-scale war across our eastern border. Among these we can find the removal of NATO’s military infrastructure from the countries admitted to the alliance after 1997, including Poland [2]. It is also important to remember the hybrid war being waged to show – both for internal and external purposes – that Russia is ready to confront NATO. We are talking about unannounced naval exercises, attacks in cyberspace or increasing social polarization in countries that Russia considers hostile [2].

Dr. Maria Domanska and Piotr Żochowski – specialists from the Center for Eastern Studies – outright call this year’s elections the most rigged ones in the history of the Russian Federation [3]. It is not without reason that they even compare them to political procedures used during the Soviet era. We ought to mention here, for instance, voting on the Internet, to which voters were forced in as many as 27 out of a total of 83 districts of Ukraine, currently occupied by Russian troops [3] or coercing people from social groups whose daily functioning is based on state administration to vote. For example, people employed in state enterprises, local government units or students [3].  According to specialists, the elections were intended only as a propaganda measure, through which the counter-candidates could be portrayed as representatives of the social margins, in addition, often supported by the West, which is hostile to Russia [3]. Thus Nikolai Kharitonov, Vladislav Davankov and Leonid Slutsky only received 4.3%, 3.8% and 3.2% of the vote, respectively. Therefore, the ruling camp was able to send a signal to both the West and the citizens of Russia that the lion’s share of Russian society supports Vladmir Putin, and through him – the direction the country took two years ago.  We can therefore be sure that only one thing will change in Russia in the next few years – the quality of life of its citizens, unfortunately for the worse.

Fot. Unsplash

Bibliography:

[1] Legucka A., Putin 5.0. Konsekwencje dla polityki wewnętrznej i zewnętrznej Rosji, [online], 15 April 2024, [accessed at 25 April 2024], accessible at: https://pism.pl/publikacje/putin-50-konsekwencje-dla-polityki-wewnetrznej-i-zagranicznej-rosji

[2] Dyner M. A., Znaczenie odnowienia kadencji Putina dla bezpieczeństwa Rosji, [online], 18 April 2024, [accessed at 25 April 2024], accessible at: https://pism.pl/publikacje/znaczenie-odnowienia-kadencji-putina-dla-polityki-bezpieczenstwa-rosji

[3] Domańska M., Żochowski P., Spektakl Putina: “wybory” prezydenckie po sowiecku, [online], 13 March 2024, [accessed at 25 April 2024], accessible at: https://www.osw.waw.pl/pl/publikacje/komentarze-osw/2024-03-18/spektakl-putina-wybory-prezydenckie-po-sowiecku

Mateusz Dąblowski
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