NewsRussia's presidential election: Putin favoured amid protests

Russia's presidential election: Putin favoured amid protests

Vladimir Putin is going for power, presidential elections have started in Russia.
Vladimir Putin is going for power, presidential elections have started in Russia.
4:12 AM EDT, March 15, 2024

Presidential elections are underway in Russia, with the aim of securing an extended term for Vladimir Putin. However, the opposition is challenging the expected outcome and is planning a novel protest. Russian authorities are on alert, potentially leading to arrests.

Elections are scheduled from March 15-17, but due to time zone differences, voting began on the evening of March 14 in the country's eastern regions. The clear front-runner is 71-year-old Vladimir Putin, expected to secure another victory despite facing some hurdles.

Midday protest against Vladimir Putin

The democratic opposition is voicing its protest against Putin. Through Telegram, Russians are spreading word of the "Noon Against Putin" campaign, encouraging voters to show up at polling stations at 12:00 PM on March 17.

This demonstration aims to reveal the true scale of opposition to the longstanding ruler, described by some as a tyrant.

"Noon Against Putin" gained early support from Alexei Navalny before his detainment, and now counts Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Dmitry Gudkov, Yulia Galyamina, among its proponents.

Some are advocating for voting for an alternative to Vladimir Putin, others propose spoiling the ballot, while some recommend just joining the queue. The most impactful method appears to be casting and voiding the vote.

To counter potential election tampering, a "Wake Up" initiative has been created as part of the "Vote Against" campaign, allowing voters to share snapshots of their ballots via a dedicated IT channel.

The risks of protesting

A report by the "Meduza" portal highlights a caution from the Moscow prosecutor's office about the stringent penalties for protest activities on Sunday. Described as "illegal actions that hinder citizens' free exercise of their electoral rights and the activities of electoral bodies", such actions can lead to up to 5 years in prison.

There's concern among Putin's opponents that the authorities might cut off internet access on Sunday in an effort to stifle protests and ensure an easy win for Putin, who confidently expects to triumph.

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