It is hardly a surprise Russian president Vladimir Putin will take part in Russian Spring 2018 Elections. On December 6, Putin announced his participation at a meeting with workers of the GAZ plant at a rally-concert in commemoration of the plant’s 85th anniversary. 10 days later he confirmed he would run as a self-nominated candidate but added that he would need the support of public as well as that of the parties.
The support seems to be there already. According to Russian polls cited by RIA agency, almost 70% of Russians are keen to vote for Putin. He is viewed as the man who brought stability and is willing to stand up to the West. The state’s firm control of the media has surely helped to secure this perception.
Will there be any viable political opponent to Putin in the upcoming elections? So far there are only a few official nominations and none is a real competitor. As of 20th of December, Vladimir Zhirinovsky (71), the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and a Russian MP have announced their resolve for candidature for the position. This is Zhirinovsky’s fifth and probably last nomination. Another one is Elena Semerikova, head of “Women dialogue” political party. Finally, the spotlight is on Kseniya Sobchak, a socialite and a former reality TV star, who had declared her intention to register as an “Against all” candidate.
Sobchak, whose father was a mentor of Vladimir Putin in the earlier days, is not held back by rumors of being “allowed” to run by Kremlin. Her registration could add flavor to otherwise boring elections. There can also be an attempt to divert people’s attention from Alexei Navalny, Putin’s critic (the latter is hardly expected to be registered due to convictions for organising unsanctioned protests).
The first round of the elections will be held on Sunday 18 March 2018. In the absence of a viable political opponent, Putin’s victory seems imminent. Once re-elected, Vladimir Putin will become Russia’s second longest serving leader since Stalin.