Russia announces presidential elections for March 2024

by time news

2023-12-07 12:33:33

Almost all of Putin’s main opponents, including activist Alexei Navalny, have been arrested or forced into exile

The Federation Council, the Upper House of Russia’s Parliament, has set the country’s next presidential elections for March 17, 2024, in which few doubt Vladimir Putin’s victory, although he has not yet officially announced his candidacy.

After methodically eliminating all internal opposition for years, the Russian president will have the opportunity with these elections to remain in power until 2030, when he would be 78 years old.

The senators of the Federation Council unanimously decided to “schedule the presidential election for March 17, 2024”, shortly after the second anniversary of the start of the offensive in Ukraine.

The decision “practically starts the presidential campaign”, said the president of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko.

Moscow claimed in September 2022 the annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions (Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia) and the elections “will be a kind of culmination of reunification”, said the president of the Upper House.

Voting will also take place on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

After a difficult 2022 marked by setbacks on the battlefront and a series of Western sanctions, Russia is in a better situation due to the failure of Ukraine’s major counteroffensive in the summer (northern hemisphere, winter in Brazil), the reduction of support from the United States and Europe for Kiev and the readjustment of the national economy.

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Almost all of Putin’s main opponents, including anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, have been arrested or forced into exile. Furthermore, any criticism of the operation against Ukraine is severely punished in the courts.

“Despite difficult external circumstances and the enemy’s attempts to weaken Russia, we remain faithful to our core constitutional values ​​and guarantee all the rights and freedoms of citizens,” Matvienko said.

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“Our citizens are more united than ever” with President Putin’s government. “The State’s job is to show itself worthy of this trust, to prevent any provocation,” he added.

“The announcement is approaching”

In power since 2000, Putin can, in a test, remain in the Kremlin until 2036 thanks to a controversial constitutional reform approved in 2020.

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Although he has not officially announced his candidacy, there is little doubt about his desire to remain in power for more years. The Russian president stated in September that he would leave the decision on the issue until “the end of the year”.

Spokesman Dmitri Peskov declared in November that “the moment for the announcement is approaching” but highlighted that Putin had no significant rival.

The decision could be announced on Thursday next week, at Putin’s big annual press conference and a question-and-answer session with citizens.

“Our people will make the only good choice possible (…) voting for Russia, for victory”, declared Valentina Matvienko.

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The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Ella Pamfilova, who was at the Federation Council vote on Thursday, said the elections will take place in a “toxic environment” due to the West’s “Russophobia” and “absurd sanctions”.

The work of the press during the elections will be complicated after the tightening of coverage conditions decreed by the authorities in November.

Independent journalists, bloggers and Russian media professionals working abroad will not have access to voting or vote counting.

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Elections are also expected to take place in Russian-occupied Ukrainian regions, where martial law is currently in force.

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© Agence France-Presse

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