With pollsters predicting he will secure 66 per cent of the popular vote, Vladimir Putin is expected to win this Sunday’s presidential election in Russia following his four-year stint as prime minister. He will replace Dmitry Medvedev, whom he had hand picked to keep his seat warm while he could pretend he wasn’t president for a full term.
The election itself might be a breeze, but recent public demonstrations against Putin’s shameless comeback indicate people could mobilize in post-election protests. Putin is well aware of that. The Associated Press quoted him saying Wednesday that his opponents could be plotting to kill an opposition figure after the election just to blame it on the authorities and have an excuse to protest:
“They are looking among well-known people for a sacrificial victim,” Putin said during a televised meeting with campaign activists. “They could, I’m sorry, knock someone off and then blame the authorities.”
While Russians might be in for another four years of the same, international consensus is building around a Putin-in-decline narrative. This week, The Economist titles one of its main articles “The beginning of the end of Putin.”