Vladimir Putin made an announcement Wednesday that should come as no surprise and will likely delight Donald Trump: He’s running for re-election to another six-year term as president.
During a meeting with factory workers, Putin declared:
“I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation.
“Russia will continue moving forwards, and nobody will ever be able to stop this forward movement.”
Putin has been head of state — either as president or prime minister — since 2000.
The Russian leader asked the audience:
“I want to ask, do you trust and support me?”
Factory employees responded with loud applause and a hearty chorus of “Yes!”
Putin’s language also seems to suggest that his campaign will focus on pitting Russia against the West, a strategy which has helped him attain an 80 percent approval rating at home.
Who will oppose Putin? Since he has been known to have political opponents imprisoned or assassinated, few have come forward to formally announce their candidacy. One, however, has. According to The Guardian:
“The socialite turned opposition journalist Ksenia Sobchak, daughter of Putin’s political mentor, has said she will stand on an ‘against all’ ticket, but she is widely seen as running with Kremlin approval to provide an outlet for the disgruntled liberal minority.”
But the only real alternative to Putin and whatever candidates the Kremlin props up in order to present a false image of democratic elections is anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny. Navalny and his reform party have offices across Russia and have been able to mobilize some public support for their platform. But it remains to be seen if Navalny will even be allowed on the ballot because he has a criminal conviction on a charge that was manufactured as a way for Putin and his allies to discredit him and keep him from gaining power. If he isn’t allowed on the ballot, Navalny has vowed to call for an “active boycott” of the elections, which are slated for March of 2018.