Vladimir Putin at a rally at Manezhnaya Square near the Kremlin on March 18, 2018.
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
The Kremlin says it’s confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin will win the 2024 presidential election if he decides to run for another term in office.
Neither Putin, 71, nor the Kremlin has confirmed he will run for another six-year term in office, taking his presidency up to 2030 and potentially beyond. Several media reports have cited unnamed sources saying Putin will stand for office, however.
Senior Russian official Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, told CNBC that though there has been no formal announcement that Putin will run for reelection, he believes the president will win the vote set to be held in March.
“There has been no formal announcement yet. But I have no doubt that if he puts forward his candidacy, he will win confidently,” Peskov said in emailed comments to CNBC.
“Society is consolidated around the president,” Peskov added.
Monthly opinion polls conducted by the independent Levada Center show Putin’s approval rating was at 82% in October, having hovered around the 80% mark since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Before the war, Putin’s ratings were around the mid-60s.
Putin first came to power on the eve of the year 2000. Since then, he has alternated the roles of prime minister and president with other senior officials while always remaining the senior party.
Under Putin’s tenure, opposition parties have been dismantled, banned and outlawed, with prominent Putin critics and opponents, such as opposition leader Alexei Navalny, harassed and imprisoned. Others have fled Russia, choosing to go into exile for their own safety while trying to maintain their activism abroad. A number of Putin critics have died in mysterious circumstances over the past two decades, and the Kremlin has insisted each time that it had nothing to do with their deaths.
The Kremlin insists Russia remains a politically plural democracy, telling CNBC in previous comments that “in Russia there are politicians with different views and positions,” when asked if the Kremlin tolerated opponents in Russia’s political system.
It’s true that Russia maintains at least a guise of political pluralism. There are, ostensibly, “opposition” parties in the country but they are seen as part of a “systemic opposition.”
That means registered political parties like the Communist Party, Liberal Democratic Party or A Just Russia — for Truth are theoretically part of the opposition. In reality, however, they support the government and have acquiesced even more since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Analysts believe that any change in Russia’s political system or leadership would have to come from within Russia’s elite, which is made up of rich and influential business people as well as senior officials and the top echelon of the security services.
But for that to happen, there would have to be a severe economic downturn or a serious geopolitical mishap, such losing the war against Ukraine. For now, there are no contenders that can oppose Putin.
“There is no political plurality in Russia, just think of countries like Iran and North Korea [where the situation is similar]. Inside the elites, there might be differences of opinion, but not really a difference of politics,” Sergei Medvedev, a noted Russian academic, historian and author, told CNBC.
For now, Medvedev said, “everything depends on the outcome of the war, and much depends on the Ukrainian armed forces and the Western resolve to help Ukraine win this war.”
Concerned that the West was “tiring” of the war, Medvedev said “everyone is anxious about the U.S. elections in 2024 and the mood of the American public, and especially if Trump and the Republicans come back to office. So there are many variables, and there are many ponderables here.”
Russia often boasts that its economy has remained resilient despite international sanctions and increased economic isolation as a result of the war. It still has friends in high places, with countries such as China and India willing to do business with it despite (and indeed benefiting from) its economic isolation by the West.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a patriotic concert dedicated to the upcoming Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on February 22, 2023.
Maksim Blinov | Afp | Getty Images
“The way it looks now, the Russian system is very resilient, much more resilient than we expected a year and a half ago at the start of the war. Economically, paradoxically, and also, socially. Putin looks in control and looks healthy,” Medvedev said.
“Of course, it’s a very obscure system and it may change overnight, we could see another mutiny led by [mercenary leader Yevgeny] Prigozhin, or the assassination of Putin even, we don’t know. But the way it looks now, if none of these black swans arrive, [Putin’s regime] could last for another year or three year or five years,” he said. “The upcoming elections are not going to change anything.”