Deloitte: Poland enters the phase of economic expansion

The divergence of economic moods in Poland...

Two Years On: War in Ukraine and Its Global Impact

On February 24, 2022, a full-scale Russian...

Russia gears up for March presidential elections; another mobilization likely after Putin win

POLITICSRussia gears up for March presidential elections; another mobilization likely after Putin win

After nearly two years of war, support among Russians for the country’s military actions in Ukraine remains high at 74 percent. A similar proportion believe that things in the country are moving in the right direction, and 85 percent of Russians support the actions of Vladimir Putin, according to recent polls by the Levada Center. However, analysts underline that the results of Russian surveys must be treated with considerable caution because, due to censorship, an extensive propaganda machine, and an increase in repression against society, their results may not reflect the real views of citizens. In the upcoming elections, a chance to express anti-war attitudes will be to vote for Boris Nadezhdin, who openly criticizes the “special military operation,” if the Kremlin allows him to run in the elections.

“Russia is preparing for elections which are to be held in March. These preparations are somewhat beside politics, as Vladimir Putin does not conduct a traditional election campaign. He has already been registered by the Central Election Commission, and the other candidates, who also undergo selection and vote counting, are unlikely to pose a threat to him. One doubtful person, who actually introduces politics into Russia as part of this election campaign, is Boris Nadezhdin, who is an anti-war candidate. However, it is unknown whether the Russian authorities will allow him to continue this campaign or whether the voices of Russians under his registration will be taken into account,” says Prof. Agnieszka Legucka, an analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM).

The presidential elections in Russia will take place on March 17, 2024, at the most sensitive moment for the Russian political system in years. Their outcome is still easy to predict, because the non-systemic political opposition today hardly exists – due to the repressive policy of the Russian authorities, most of its leaders have ended up abroad or are serving long sentences in prisons.

“The non-system opposition is being arrested, accused of strange things, and sentenced to many years, like Alexei Navalny or Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison mainly for his anti-Putin activities. Most of the opposition has left the country and is on emigration, in addition, they are very divided among themselves. However, now a new fact is that most of them have endorsed Boris Nadezhdin. Does he have a chance in the Russian elections? Not really, because elections in Russia are not really elections, they are a plebiscite and – as the Russians say – the authorities can draw the desired result. Boris Nadezhdin, however, has a new element in the sense that the Russians are really lining up to sign for him. And the question is whether the Russian authorities will let him start,” wonders Prof. Agnieszka Legucka.

From the analysis published by PISM, it appears that there are around 109 million registered Russian voters, of whom 2 million are outside the country’s borders. It is estimated that the emigrant opposition, which keeps in touch with fellow Russians via Telegram and YouTube, reaches around 15–30 million Russians with its message. However, there is a lack of reliable data on the scale of its support, and the prospect of the upcoming presidential elections has highlighted internal divisions and difficulties in cooperation between different groups of the Russian emigrant opposition. Its only clear common denominator is opposition to Putin and the war against Ukraine.

“Sanctions have definitely increased the cost of this war, which can be seen in Russia’s federal budget. However, Russians are also struggling with daily, life problems, which are only indirectly related to the war, like rising prices or critical infrastructure, energy and water supply. Now, in the winter, Russians suffer a lot from the fact that the Russian authorities are focusing on the war instead of solving these problems. But the actual mood in Russia is hard to verify and I have the impression that the admission of Boris Nadezhdin to the elections is to show the real scale of support for anti-war slogans, because there is no credible public opinion research in Russia. Russians rarely tell the truth if they are verified by pollsters,” emphasizes the PISM analyst.

Current public opinion polls show that social support for Vladimir Putin’s actions in Russia has significantly increased after the invasion of Ukraine. According to a study by the Levada Center conducted at the end of March 2022, it exceeded 80 percent at that time, whereas in January, before the invasion, it was 69 percent. Meanwhile, a survey by the Levada Center conducted at the end of November 2023, i.e. after more than 20 months of the war, showed that support for Russia’s military actions in Ukraine still remains high at 74 percent. 18 percent of respondents have the opposite opinion on this matter. The Russian “special military operation” enjoys the greatest support among older persons (89 percent among respondents 65+), those who declare trust in government television, and supporters of Vladimir Putin as president (83 percent). Among younger age groups, the level of support for Russia’s military actions is significantly lower (24 percent up to 24 years of age).

Most respondents believe that the “special military operation” is being successfully conducted and this percentage is steadily increasing – from 55 percent in June last year to 66 percent in November. However, the Levada Center’s survey also shows that the percentage of Russians advocating peace talks is gradually increasing (57 percent). This opinion is more often expressed by women, rural residents, and young people. 36 percent of respondents advocate the continuation of war operations, with 21 percent decidedly so. Interestingly, the research shows that Moscow stands out in this respect from other places. Its residents are less inclined to start peace negotiations – only 43 percent, while in other localities about half of the respondents considered it necessary to start peace negotiations.

“Russians see in Putin a person who is able to save them from local and regional problems. The belief from earlier periods still persists that the tsar is good and the boyars are bad. That’s why Russians vent their greatest frustrations against their local, regional leaders and try to ask for help from Vladimir Putin to sort things out,” says Prof. Agnieszka Legucka. “Of course, the fact that Vladimir Putin is leading a full-scale war against Ukraine also affects his internal position, the position within the elite. If he wins, there’s a high chance he’ll call for mobilization, meaning once again Russians will be drafted and sent to the front. And because the previous mobilization caused a major social shock, the Russian authorities do not want to link it with Vladimir Putin for the time being. Of course, any victory on the Ukrainian front could help him now, but just maintaining such a position that Russia has its territories occupied and still has not relinquished these territories to Ukraine, strengthens the position of Vladimir Putin.”

Check out our other content
Related Articles
The Latest Articles