Incidents Already Reported During Russian 3-day Presidential Election

Starting on March 15th, Russians will participate in the presidential election over three days, with President Vladimir Putin’s victory seen as almost certain due to the absence of significant opposition.

The Russian Electoral System:

Russia’s political system, which normally allows a president to be elected for a six-year term and permits just one re-election, underwent a major change with the 2020 constitutional reform. This reform reset the term limits, enabling Putin to seek re-election for a third consecutive term, with the potential to extend his leadership until 2036.

If no candidate secures more than half of the votes by March 17th, a second round of voting is scheduled for April 7th 2024, leading to the presidential inauguration on May 7th.

Problems for Putin:

The war in Ukraine is very much present during those elections, with the erection of banners figuring the letter “V” at polling stations in Moscow, a symbol often associated with the war by Russian officials. The opposition to Putin has also been very active, with the armed group ‘Freedom of Russia Legion’ conducting military operation in the Kursk and Belgorod Oblasts just a few days before the start of the election.

The election has already seen incidents across the country, including colored dye poured on ballot boxes and Molotov cocktails attacks against polling stations, resulting in at least eight arrests. There have also been sightings of organized groups of municipal workers coming in, voting and leaving together.

Given the clear lack of competition facing Putin, the election’s real test will be the turnout rate, serving as a measure of the population’s support for his rule.