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8 Dec, 2023 20:54

Putin and the opposition: Everything about the 2024 election in Russia

The Russian president has officially announced his reelection bid
Putin and the opposition: Everything about the 2024 election in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that he plans to seek another term in office in the upcoming March 2024 presidential election.

Putin announced the bid during a meeting with servicemen, at which he awarded Hero of Russia medals to those who had distinguished themselves during the military operation in Ukraine. Putin said he has had “different thoughts at different times” on the matter, yet ultimately decided to run for office once again. “I am going to run for president of the Russian Federation,” he stated.

When is the election set to be held?

The 2024 presidential election will be held over a three-day period from March 15-17, Russia’s Central Election Commission (CEC) announced. This will be the first time a presidential election is held over multiple days. However, the multi-day format has been used in other elections in Russia after it was first introduced during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The extended format has proven to be popular among voters, allowing better turnout and putting less strain on local election committees, CEC head Ella Pamfilova explained, adding that keeping the polls open for several days has become a “tradition” in the country. 

For how long Putin has been in power?

Vladimir Putin was elected Russia’s president in the year 2000 and served two four-year terms until 2008. Although presidential terms in the country were technically unlimited at the time, an individual could only serve two consecutive terms.

Putin subsequently became prime minister under Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russia’s president between 2008 and 2012. During Medvedev’s tenure, the presidential term was extended to six years.

Putin has remained Russia’s president since 2012 and is currently serving his second six-year term after being reelected in 2018.

Constitutional changes

The Russian presidency was overhauled during a major constitutional reform launched back in 2020. Under the new rules, the provision about two consecutive terms for one person was abolished and a hard cap of two six-year terms in total was introduced.

However, under an amendment tabled by renowned cosmonaut-turned-MP Valentina Tereshkova, Putin’s terms before the constitutional makeover were “nullified,” effectively enabling him to run for office in 2024 – and in 2030 – should he desire to do so.

Who are the candidates?

Several public figures and politicians have already announced their intent to run for the presidency next year. Independent candidates must collect at least 300,000 signatures from their backers to file a bid, while those nominated by registered parties must gather at least 100,000. Candidates nominated by parties represented in the country’s parliament are exempt from the signature-gathering requirement.

The list of hopefuls includes several liberal figures, namely Ekaterina Duntsova, a journalist and former local MP from Rzhev; long-time opposition figure Boris Nadezhdin, a former MP and now a regional legislator backed by the centrist-right party Civic Initiative; as well as Sergey Lipatov, a lawyer and activist. All three of these hopefuls have been critical of the policies of the Russian government, including the military operation in Ukraine.

Igor Girkin (also known as Igor Strelkov), a former field commander who briefly served as the defense minister in the Donetsk People’s Republic early in the conflict in then-Ukrainian Donbass, has also announced his intention to run. Girkin, a controversial figure who has been highly critical of the military operation in Ukraine – although primarily of its execution rather than its essence – was detained earlier this year on charges of making public calls to engage in extremist activities. Whether he will be able to run for president remains unclear.

Anatoly Rabinovich, a less-well-known politician and public advocate, has also announced his intent to run for the presidency, suggesting his bid would become a “test of tolerance” for Russians. Although he expressed confidence that Putin would win the election, he stated that should a candidate in their 40s garner some 20%, it would be a major win for the country’s opposition. However, this is only possible if the opposition manages to field a single candidate, he warned last month.

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