Vladimir Putin’s Would-Be Replacements Are Playing the …

Yuliya Talmazan

When it comes to Russian politics, it seems that what’s old is new again, and again, and again, and again.

Vladimir Putin has already spent almost 14 years as president — and boasts two other stints as the country’s prime minister.

But when Russians cast their votes in the presidential election six months from Monday, polls suggest Putin will almost certainly be re-elected to a fourth term running the world’s largest nation in terms of landmass.

And while the subsequent election in 2024 may seem far away, analysts say some of his opponents are under no illusions about their prospects at the ballot box this March.

“The scenarios for Putin running and losing are hard to spin. People will run against him, but nobody honestly thinks they can beat Putin,” said Olga Oliker, the director of Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They know they can’t win the election, but they can demonstrate their presence and plan for a future when winning elections becomes possible.”

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While several candidates are expected to throw their hat into the ring, the one who has unnerved the Kremlin the most appears to be Alexei Navalny, a 41-year-old Russian lawyer, activist and anti-corruption blogger.

Navalny has been found guilty of embezzlement — charges he says were fabricated to deny him a slot on the ballot.




Image: Alexei Navalny

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.