Quantcast
Connect with us

Isolated but defiant, Russia set to re-elect strongman Putin

Published

on

Russia was on Sunday set to elect Vladimir Putin to a historic fourth Kremlin term, as the country faces increasing isolation over a spy poisoning in Britain and a fresh round of US sanctions.

Since taking power 18 years ago, Putin has stamped his total authority on the country, silencing opposition and reasserting Moscow’s lost might abroad.

Polling at around 70 percent, the macho leader is sure to extend his term to 2024 despite a lacklustre campaign ahead of a summer when global attention will be glued to Russia as it hosts the football World Cup.

ADVERTISEMENT

Putin has sought to use the election run-up to emphasise Russia’s role as a major world power, recently boasting of its “invincible” new weapons and continuing Moscow’s support for the Syrian regime in a bloody civil war.

Rising tensions with the West over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain, and new sanctions from Washington over alleged election meddling, strengthen the impression of a Russia at loggerheads with the rest of the world.

“In America and Europe, they are trying to make us bend over and kneel, but we’re still standing,” Sergei Babayev, a 55-year-old transport manager, told AFP in central Moscow shortly ahead of the vote.

“They promised us a crisis and we stuck it out. That’s Putin’s main quality — he is at the core of our state.”

Sunday also marks exactly four years since Putin signed a treaty declaring Crimea part of Russia following its annexation from Ukraine, an action that led to the war in the east of the former Soviet state.

ADVERTISEMENT

– No choice –

Putin, who has run under the slogan “a strong president — a strong Russia”, has declined to take part in televised debates and shot no new material for his own campaign advertisements.

He is standing against seven other candidates, including millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin and former reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak, but none are polling more than eight percent.

One of the more memorable moments from the campaign came during a debate when Sobchak threw a glass of water over the ranting ultra-nationalist candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky, prompting him to call her a “prostitute” and a “mad fool”.

ADVERTISEMENT

Putin’s most vocal opponent, the anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, has been barred from standing for legal reasons and has called on followers to boycott an election he says is a sham.

Authorities, however, are seeking a high turnout to add greater legitimacy to a new term for Putin, who is already Russia’s second-longest serving leader since Joseph Stalin.

ADVERTISEMENT

“These are not quite the elections we see in Western countries,” Stepan Goncharov of the independent Levada Center pollster told AFP.

“People are put in a situation where they have no-one to choose from,” he said.

“If they want to express their disapproval, then they don’t turn out. They think of it as a vote of confidence (in Putin).”

ADVERTISEMENT

– ‘Adults only’ –

There has been a particular focus on the youth vote, with prizes offered for the best selfies taken at polling stations and a sexually charged online campaign that brands the election as “for adults only”.

Meanwhile, students in several cities have been warned they may face problems in examinations or even expulsion if they do not turn out to vote, according to liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Heads of schools and state enterprises have put pressure on their employees to vote, as in previous elections, in some cases telling workers they should bring in a list of names of friends or relatives who were also going to the polls.

Early voting has already taken place in some remote areas, where local election commissions bring ballot boxes by helicopter and snowmobile.

ADVERTISEMENT

Polls opened in Russia’s far east at 2000 GMT on Saturday and will close in Kaliningrad, the country’s exclave in Europe, at 1800 GMT on Sunday.

Overall turnout is expected to be between 63 and 67 percent, according to official pollsters.

The run-up to Russia’s last presidential election in 2012 was marked by protests across the country against Putin’s return as head of state after four years as prime minister.

But those demonstrations were quashed and once he was back in the Kremlin a crackdown followed, with activists arrested, the Pussy Riot rock band jailed and draconian new laws criminalising popular protest passed.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘Outrageous and criminal behavior’: Internet blows up at graphic video of Buffalo Police pushing over an elderly man

Published

on

On Thursday, footage emerged of police in Buffalo, New York pushing an elderly man to the ground, and refusing to help him as he lay bleeding profusely from a head injury.

The footage triggered immediate outrage on social media.

Horrible. I pray he’s ok. https://t.co/wL2gcNeAIT

— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) June 5, 2020

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Protester bled from his ear after being shoved by police — cops say he ‘tripped’

Published

on

SHocking video from Buffalo, New York was posted online on Thursday after a large group of police confronted a lone protester -- and then violently shoved him.

"Shortly after Buffalo’s curfew started, city police and State Police swept through the area of Niagara Square directly in front of City Hall to clear the area where a protest was finishing. An unidentified, older man was hit shoved by two officers in the line. The man lost his balance and fell to the pavement, audibly hitting his head with blood running out from under his head," WBFO-TV reports.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump aides are compiling candidates to replace Mark Esper if Trump decides to fire him: report

Published

on

On Thursday, Politico reported that although Defense Secretary Mark Esper's job appears safe for now, aides to President Donald Trump are compiling a list of potential nominees to replace him if the president changes his mind and decides to fire him.

"An administration official and two people close to the White House say staffers in recent days have pulled together a list of possible candidates for Defense secretary if Trump does choose to fire Esper," reported Lara Seligman, Daniel Lippman, and Meridith McGraw. "At the top of that list is Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who was Esper’s No. 2 before taking the Army job last summer, the people said. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an outspoken Trump ally who has previously been considered for the position, is also in the mix, according to one of the people."

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image