The World Today for March 15, 2024


Vladimir the Determined


Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, is urging Russians to protest when their country holds its presidential election from March 15 to 17. In a video rebroadcast on the BBC, Navalnaya called for voters to swamp polls and either tear up their paper ballots or write “Navalny” on them.

Navalny died in a penal colony in the remote Russian Arctic last month. He ran against Russian President Vladimir Putin in past presidential campaigns and was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin. But he was serving a number of prison sentences on different charges, including a 19-year sentence on an “extremism” conviction, the Associated Press reported.

Navalny’s grave at Borisovsky Cemetery in Moscow has become a pilgrimage site for pro-democracy Russians who oppose Putin’s authoritarianism, his lack of respect for human rights, and aggression against Ukraine and wherever else targeting Russia’s so-called “near abroad” neighbors.

“I didn’t think that he would be killed in prison,” said an unnamed Russian who spoke to the New York Times as they came to pay their respects. “I thought he would actually get out, and it would be a turning point, and everything would change. I haven’t fully processed Navalny’s death. For now, I don’t know, I don’t have any vision of the future … forces of evil are closing in.”

Navalny’s passing likely heralds the end of a disciplined anti-Putin political movement for the foreseeable future, concluded World Politics Review.

In the meantime, it’s a near certainty that Putin will win the Russian presidential elections, earning a fifth term in office set to last six years. Analysts say the ballot would be neither free nor fair. Russian officials have barred the only other figure capable of garnering votes, opposition politician Boris Nadezhdin, due to technicalities regarding signatures in support of his candidacy, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

For his part, Putin wants a robust vote that demonstrates that he is in command of the Russian political system, explained the Council on Foreign Relations, and that he is popular.

An ex-KGB spy, Putin, 71, is Russia’s longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin in the Soviet era, wrote Al Jazeera. If he can serve out his full term in office to 2030, he will have governed the country longer than anyone since Peter the Great, the tsar who died in 1721, added Rod Thornton, a professor in international studies at King’s College London, in the Conversation. Under current Russian laws, Putin would then be eligible to run once more for a term lasting through 2036.

Still, Thornton warns that Putin is under pressure externally and internally, especially because of the war in Ukraine. “He may win these presidential elections in March, but just how long he can remain in power … may be uncertain.”

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