News / Europe

If Elected Russian President, Putin Faces Tough Choices

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with supporters, members of the All-Russia People's Front party, and political scientists, in Moscow, February 29, 2012.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with supporters, members of the All-Russia People's Front party, and political scientists, in Moscow, February 29, 2012.

Russians go to the polls Sunday to elect a new president. There's much at stake for the former president, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  

There are five candidates for the Russian presidency, including Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and billionaire businessman Sergei Prokhorov. But the man who is expected to win the election is Putin.

Last September, he announced he would run for president in the March 4 elections, replacing Dmitri Medvedev, who is expected to become prime minister in a new government.

Protests sparked by fraud charges

The presidential balloting comes several months after Russians went to the polls to elect a new parliament. But there were allegations of widespread fraud during those December elections, sparking huge demonstrations in major Russian cities.

Analysts such as Robert Legvold say the protests have evolved into a direct attack on Putin’s authority.

“It certainly seems to represent many different segments of the population that are simply fed up. The slogan that characterizes everything since the September decision, when Putin simply announced that he was going to be the presidential candidate and almost certainly the elected president, the word, the slogan has been ‘enough’ - ‘We have had enough.’ Or as the Russians would say, ‘We have had it up to our eyeballs,’” said Legvold.

Possibility of second round of voting

Russian electoral law says if no presidential candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round is needed.

Sergei Glebov is a Russia expert at Smith College [in Massachusetts].

“There seems to be little doubt right now that Putin will gather more than half of the votes and will win in the first round - although it really will depend on the degree of mobilization of anti-Putin forces. A second round is certainly a distinct possibility,” said Glebov.

Legvold said either outcome will pose problems for Putin.

“If, on the one hand, he wins in the first round, does not have to go to a second round, then among the large segment of the public that already voted in December and have been out in the streets, they are going to see this as a manipulated election and it is going to reinforce the negative impressions that they had in December and acted on," said Glebov. "On the other hand, if it is forced to a second round, he has got a negative vote on his leadership, even if he carries the second round. And he will know that he goes into this next term weakened from anything that he has experienced before.”

Dealing from a weakened position

Glebov agrees.

“What I think is going to be staggeringly different about this election, is that even if Putin wins, he will be a different kind of president. He certainly can no longer claim the same degree of legitimacy, of popular support as he claimed, say, in 2004,” said Glebov.

That year Putin was re-elected in a landslide for a second term as president, receiving 71 percent of the votes cast. His approval rating now is roughly in the mid-40s.

Legvold said if elected president, Putin will have to address the anti-government demonstrations.

He will have to, fairly early on, decide how he will deal with that. Is he going to try to strong-arm it or is he going to begin yielding to it and make some changes that may in fact generate a rejuvenation of broader support for him within the public? That is a question I can not answer. I am not sure he could answer that today, but I certainly can not answer it. I do not know where he will go,” said Glebov.

Many experts say it will be interesting to see in the weeks and months ahead if the anti-Putin protests continue to spread - and if they present a clear challenge to the new Putin presidency.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs