“From all the serving comrades, from all my friends and acquaintances, we are all asking him to run for president, to which he replied, times may be difficult, but now he will be with the people and run for office,” said Lt. Col. Artyom Zhoka, commander of the ultranationalist Sparta battalion.
Putin holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Russian leader since Stalin
The low-key announcement serves the carefully planned purpose of showing “how modest Putin is.” Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik, a Russian political consultancy now based in Paris, said she had no time to parade her political ambitions in front of TV cameras because she was so busy with real affairs amid the invasion of Ukraine.
“It’s a strange announcement and everyone is surprised that there’s no video – but it’s a sign of the times. There’s no time for propaganda, Putin will tell you,” Stanovaya said in a Telegram post.
“The proposal is bursting with symbols: the heroes, the ‘fathers of Donbass’ want to see Putin back as president. … Putin chose war; war chooses Putin. That is, survival is not about prosperity. The stakes have been raised as high as possible,” he added.
About an hour after Joga’s initial comments to state reporters were carried out by agencies, Russian state television aired a clip In the official’s conversation with Putin, the president says there are “different thoughts at different times,” before briskly saying, “It’s time to make decisions,” confirming his candidacy.
“On behalf of all our people, our Donbass, our reunified territories, we want to ask you to participate in the presidential election, because there is a lot of work, thanks to your work and your decision, we have freedom, the right to choose, and we want to participate in the election,” said Joga. , referring to the eastern Ukrainian regions occupied by Russian forces. “You are our president. We are your team. We need you, Russia needs you.
Joga’s Sparta Battalion is a pro-Russian ultranationalist force formed in Donetsk during the Kremlin-backed uprising in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and has been integrated into the Russian armed forces since last year’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Joga was among the speakers at Putin’s March 2022 pro-war rally in Moscow. “Our task is to liberate our land from the Nazi people,” Joga said, echoing the false narrative that Ukraine is run by neo-Nazis bent on destroying Russia.
Pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov said after awarding Hero of Russia awards to soldiers in the Kremlin – a sign that the president plans to make the war the centerpiece of his campaign.
“Putin is going to be voted military leader of a warring country,” he wrote in a telegram. “This means that any notion of ‘moving away from the military agenda’ or ‘focusing on internal social issues’ is rejected. And that’s fine.”
For Putin, focusing on domestic policies would spell failure, he continued. “Putin abandoned a failed strategy and chose the image of a military leader that would deliver him enormous success.”
Putin has effectively ruled Russia since 2000, swapping positions with Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 as he was constitutionally barred from serving a third consecutive term, and has been the driving force behind Medvedev during his tenure as prime minister. Before the 2012 election, Putin introduced a constitutional reform that removed constitutional limits and extended the presidential term from four years to six years.
Putin’s new run is expected from 2020, when he went a step further in bending the Russian constitution and planned changes that would allow him to stay in power until 2036, when he would be 84.
Like autocrats in China and North Korea, the announcement suggests that Putin will not leave office in the near future and cannot remain in his lifetime. In 2017, Putin became the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin, who led the Soviet Union for nearly three decades between 1924 and 1953, defeating Leonid Brezhnev, who ruled for 18 years.
Putin’s long tenure in power makes him part of a club of strongmen who have ruled for decades, many of them African dictators, including Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nkuma Mbasoko, in power since 1979; And Paul Biya of Cameroon, president since 1982; and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, president since 1986. Only former Soviet leaders in power longer than Putin are Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan and Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. Both are close allies of Putin.
Putin’s election in March has been ensured by Russia’s highly skewed electoral system, in which the Kremlin controls nearly all news media, bars anti-Kremlin figures from running in elections and jails Putin’s main opponents and pro-democracy activists, forcing thousands of activists to flee. Leave the country to avoid arrest.
Russian elections have long been marked by massive irregularities, including ballot stuffing and delays in vote counting. Other features brought in from 2020, including elections held within three days and electronic voting, have made the system less transparent and more open to manipulation.
Under state propaganda, the Kremlin has maintained much support for Putin and the war in Ukraine that has now defined his presidency, portraying the conflict as a battle for Russia’s survival against a frenzied West bent on destroying the country and plundering its resources.