NewsPutin on track for historic reign amidst contested Russian elections

Putin on track for historic reign amidst contested Russian elections

Putin in the president's chair outdoes Yeltsin and Stalin.
Putin in the president's chair outdoes Yeltsin and Stalin.
Images source: © Кремль, Wikimedia

5:22 AM EDT, March 15, 2024

The ongoing presidential elections in Russia are expected to secure another term for Vladimir Putin. Having ruled the country since 1999, with only a brief hiatus, the dictator can remain in office until 2036. This duration would surpass the tenures of some of the most notable figures in Russian history, including Joseph Stalin.

Consensus is clear: this year's presidential elections in Russia are a farce. Ostensibly, they are meant to extend Vladimir Putin's term, facilitated by a referendum a few years back that amended the constitution. This allowed Putin the potential to rule until 2036.

Vladimir Putin's tenure is the longest in modern Russian history

Since 1999, Vladimir Putin has held the presidency of Russia, only stepping down to the role of Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. His rule is among the lengthiest in modern Russian history, exceeding the terms of leaders like Leonid Brezhnev (18 years) and Nikita Khrushchev (11 years and 6 months). He has far outpaced Boris Yeltsin, his predecessor, who governed for just under 3,000 days.

Vladimir Putin has only Joseph Stalin left to surpass. The dictator commanded power from 1924-1953, totaling 29 years until his demise. Intriguingly, should Putin complete his current term (set to end in 2030), he will outlast one of history's most infamous tyrants—a fact he apparently takes pride in.

Should Putin's rule extend to 2030, he would become the longest-reigning leader of Russia since the 18th century. Only Empress Catherine the Great, who reigned from 1762 to 1796, remains ahead of him. To overtake her, Putin would need to maintain control until 2036. However, his advancing age might pose a challenge for the dictator.

By that time, Vladimir Putin will be over 82 years old. There are already rumours of his serious health issues and dependence on body doubles. Furthermore, the uncertain outcome of the war in Ukraine—a conflict the Russians have yet to win and may never win—looms large. A defeat could significantly undermine his position.

Presidential elections in Russia: The contenders

On the ballot alongside Putin are: Vladislav Davankov, Vice Chairman of the Russian Duma and member of the New People party, Leonid Slutsky, leader of the Kremlin-friendly Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), and the Communist Party's candidate Nikolai Charitonov.

All are considered compliant figures, dutiful to Putin and his inner circle. None stand a genuine chance of electoral success.

However, Russian authorities have excluded anyone who could pose a real threat or voice opposition to the war in Ukraine from the election. It's widely acknowledged that the election is set up for Putin to win, with his supporters prepared to ensure that outcome. The elections in Russia are scheduled for March 15-17.

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