The Russian President seems to be in no mood to take risks
In December first week, Putin officially announced that he would seek a fourth term in office and he is widely expected to win. It’s true that Putin, seeking a fourth term that would see him become the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin is still quite popular.The anti-corruption crusader, Navalny is backed by the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. For months Aleksei Navalny has been travelling the country to meet voters, stage rallies and protests. For once it was expected that Russia would allow him to compete against Putin to enhance the legitimacy of elections in Russia.
Europe was quick to denounce Navalny’s exclusion from the March election. The European Union’s foreign office said, “casts a serious doubt on political pluralism in Russia and the prospect of democratic elections next year.”
Navalny claims Putin’s support is exaggerated and artificially maintained by a biased state media and an unfair system. Navalny has been jailed three times this year and charged with breaking the law by repeatedly organizing public meetings and rallies. The anti-establishment leader is credited to organize large-scale protests alleging Putin and his lieutenants are deeply rooted in corruption and neglectful of ordinary people’s interests.
Putin on the other hand, having watched last year’s presidential election in the United States, appears worried and is not in a position to trust that a longshot rival could, if not win, at least perform much better than expected and dent his supremacy.
In prevailing circumstances, Ksenia Sobchak, a 36-year-old star TV host could raise public interest in the race. She may attract a chunk of Navalny’s supporters.
We have to wait to see if Sobchak indeed gives a tough fight or proves to be a Kremlin stooge.