Putin's rivals plot to use Russian election to undermine President: 'He's vulnerable'


Putin's rivals plot to use Russian election to undermine President: 'He's vulnerable'

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 12/12/2023

- 14:41

The president declared his candidacy for another six-year term on Friday

Political opponents to Vladimir Putin have said the election is a chance to "change the political agenda" in Russia.

Opponents to the Russian president said the election is scent a chance to show he is vulnerable.

Putin declared his candidacy for another six-year term on Friday.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is currently serving more than 30 years in prison and other critics have been jailed or are in exile.

WATCH NOW: Officials in Russia remove posters with QR code linking to anti-Putin site

As the Kremlin is in full control of state media and able to decide who can and cannot run, the Navalny camp says this is not a real election.

However, it sees the 100-day campaign window as a rare opportunity to draw Russians into a political conversation and convince them that the Ukraine war and the economic strains it has brought are problems of Putin's making.

Top Navalny aide Leonid Volkov told news agency Reuters: "Of course it's impossible to beat Putin in the 'elections'. The aim of our campaign is to change the political agenda in Russia."

The Kremlin says Putin will win another six-year term because he commands overwhelming support across Russian society, with opinion poll ratings of around 80 per cent.


A man appearing in court via video link

Jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny


There are currently three people who have declared their intention to run against him.

These are low level politicians Boris Nadezhdin and Yekaterina Duntsova and nationalist Igor Girkin.

Nadezhdin and Duntsova may struggle to gather the 300,000 signatures required to support their candidacies. Girkin is in jail awaiting trial on a charge of inciting extremist activity.

Other possible candidates who have yet to declare include Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov and liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, both political veterans and serial election losers.

\u200bLyubov Sobol

Lyubov Sobol is a key figure in the opposition to Putin


Lyubov Sobol, a close Navalny associate who, like Volkov, is on an official list of "terrorists and extremists" and is now based outside Russia.

Sobol said: "We don't have our own candidate. We had a candidate, Navalny, and they refused to register him, tried to kill him and put him in prison. Now we have, so to speak, a collective candidate 'against Putin."

Navalny's supporters cast him as a Russian version of South Africa's Nelson Mandela who will one day be freed from jail to lead the country.

Russian authorities view Navalny and his supporters as extremists with links to Western intelligence agencies intent on trying to destabilise Russia. Putin has warned the West that any meddling inside Russia will be considered an act of aggression.

A blue billboard

The giant blue billboards appeared across Russia


Sobol told Reuters that the opposition is seeking volunteers from among the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Russia since the start of the war and asking them to cold-call voters - ideally as many as 100 each.

She said people would be scared and put the phone down, but others could be persuaded to talk.

Within hours of parliament announcing the March 17 election on Thursday, the Navalny camp had fired its first campaign shot.

It posted photos on social media of giant blue billboards it had placed in major cities, with an innocent-looking new year greeting to Russians. Underneath was a QR code leading to the NotPutin website, which calls for volunteers to spread videos and campaign messages online.

You may like