Russian opposition, led by personalities such as the imprisoned leader Alexei Navalny and others either in prison or in exile, are gearing up for the presidential elections in March next year, aiming to challenge the longstanding rule of President Vladimir Putin. While agreeing that Putin's victory is almost certain, the opposition plans to use the election campaign to raise awareness of issues in Russian society, including the war against Ukraine, the economic situation, the healthcare system, and social justice.
Raising the Stakes in a Repressive Political Landscape
With the majority of opposition figures either jailed or driven into exile, independent news outlets blocked, and criticism muted by repressive laws adopted over the last decade, the Kremlin stands poised to declare any election result. However, activists such as Leonid Volkov, Navalny's top strategist and chief of staff, plan to leverage the election campaign to voice their perspectives about Putin and his government. Volkov's team launched a project named 'Navalny's Campaigning Machine', aiming to communicate directly with as many Russians as possible, persuading them to turn against Putin.
Challenging Putin's Grip on Power
Despite an immensely costly war in Ukraine, which has claimed thousands of Russian lives and provoked repeated attacks inside Russia, Putin still commands wide support after nearly a quarter-century in power. However, the opposition hopes to undermine his public support, shift popular opinion against the war, and show those opposing it that they are not alone. The aim is to bring issues into the public agenda that will stick with Russians even after the election.
Projects Aiming to Undermine Putin's Support
Projects like 'Navalny's Campaigning Machine', focusing on direct communication with citizens, and 'Russia without Putin', urging people to act against Putin, aim to undermine his support and motivate citizens to express their dissatisfaction. The Anti-War Committee, gathering prominent activists in exile, plans a 'No to Putin' campaign, with the goal of explaining to Russians what a future without Putin and war might look like. Other projects such as 'Our Staff' lend support to democratic candidates with an anti-war stance. Through various tactics, including the potential organization of long queues on election day, the opposition hopes to influence Russia's political landscape, despite repressive laws and political freedom restrictions in the country.