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  Opinion   Edit  19 Mar 2024  AA Edit | Putin’s ‘sweep’ is no surprise

AA Edit | Putin’s ‘sweep’ is no surprise

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 19, 2024, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Mar 19, 2024, 12:05 am IST

As Putin secures another term amidst controversy, his grip on power and geopolitical ambitions come into focus, raising concerns globally.

In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik late on February 22, 2024, Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers an address on Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Kremlin in Moscow. (Photo by Alexander_KAZAKOV / POOL / AFP)
 In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik late on February 22, 2024, Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivers an address on Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Kremlin in Moscow. (Photo by Alexander_KAZAKOV / POOL / AFP)

The joke about the thief breaking into the Kremlin and stealing next year’s election results will never stale. The predetermined landslide vote record for President Vladimir Putin, which was predictable because the whole 3-day exercise was perceived to be a referendum on Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, sort of embellishes the scenario of a fixed outcome, with 87.8 per cent of the votes said to have been cast in his favour.

As the former KGB officer embarks on a fifth term that will see him pass Josef Stalin and get behind only Catherine the Great as Russia’s longest ruler, an emboldened Putin could only speak of Ukraine and how Russia needs to build a buffer zone to prevent isolated attacks on Moscow during poll time that Ukraine or its proxies may have triggered.

Results showed Communist candidate Nikolai Kharitonov finishing second with 4 per cent, Vladislav Davankov third, and Leonid Slutsky fourth, while even a virtually unknown anti-war campaigner in Boris Nadezhdin was disqualified from the ballot.

Votes were counted after soldiers accompanied ballot boxes that were taken to voters in occupied Ukraine areas like Donetsk. And yet the known outcome, despite the ‘noon’ protests, organised by those who oppose him and who may have been inspired by the late Alexei Navalny, is only part of the story of Mr Putin.

What he is preparing to do in the immediate future and in his new 6-year term, which he could repeat if he defies age expectancy averages, is more relevant to the story of the contemporary world in which Mr Putin is seen as the anti-West hero in Russia, in war and in peace.  What he may attempt to do to reshape geopolitics with a Russian economy seen as stronger despite the war losses and sanctions is going to be crucial even as the US dilly-dallies on weapons and other aid to Ukraine.

Nothing would have changed so far as India is concerned as one of its closest friends feels more empowered to act out of the Kremlin. It might be jarring when Mr Putin takes potshots at US democracy — perhaps inspired by his love for Mr Donald Trump — but there is some basis to his words —  “no matter who wants to intimidate us, suppress us —  nobody has ever succeeded in history.”

Tags: russia elections, president vladimir putin, aa edit