Russian elections: persecution, cash handouts and the Putin system

With support for United Russia at record lows, the government has launched a dramatic crackdown on dissent

The overriding goal of the president, say analysts, is to demonstrate that there can be no alternative to his leadership. Last year, Putin changed the constitution to allow him to extend his rule potentially until 2036, though he has not said whether he plans to run again. “Putin needs personal confirmation of his mandate and of the lack of alternatives to him. The election is another chance for him to convince himself that the people still support him,” says Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of political consultancy R. Politik. “He needs the elections to strengthen his place in the system and let the elite know that Putin is the only figure who can hold up the whole system and has a monopoly on deciding when to transfer power [and] who the successor will be,” Stanovaya adds.

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