Russia to vote: all the presidential numbers


By John

Russia will hold presidential elections from Friday 15 March to Sunday 17 March which, barring unforeseen circumstances, will give Vladimir Putin another 6-year mandate in the Kremlin, against the backdrop of the continuation of the Russian war in Ukraine.

It is the first time that the presidential elections are spread over three days instead of one and it is also the first time that numerous regions (27 plus Crimea) will be able to use electronic voting; both aspects have raised fears among independent observers of a possible increase in fraud and manipulation. Russia used three-day voting for the first time in the 2020 referendum on constitutional reforms, pushed by Putin to run for two more terms and stay in power until 2036, making him Russia's longest-serving leader ever.

Out of a population of 146 million inhabitants, any citizen over the age of 18 who is not in prison for a criminal record can vote. According to the Central Election Commission, there are 112.3 million eligible voters in Russia, Crimea and the “annexed” regions of Ukraine (Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson); another 1.9 million, however, live abroad. Over 8.5 million Russians have applied to access the “remote electronic voting system”, again according to the Election Commission.

Voting will also be held abroad, at 295 polling stations set up in 144 countries, including Italy. Around 1.42 million voters in 39 regions voted early (starting February 25), in remote or hard-to-reach areas and on ships that will be in service on the days of the poll.

The turnout in the 2018 presidential elections was 67.5%; observers and individual voters had reported widespread violations, through well-known practices such as placing pre-filled ballots in ballot boxes and intimidation and pressure from superiors in the workplace to vote. The turnout for the 2021 parliamentary elections was 51.7%. According to rumors collected by independent sites such as Meduza, the Kremlin is aiming for a turnout of between 70 and 80% to confirm the idea that the country is united around Putin's leadership and his “special military operation”, as in Russia must call the war in Ukraine

There will be no international observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission at the polls, which Moscow has decided not to invite. In the 2018 presidential elections – in which Putin obtained 76.7% of the vote – the OSCE had denounced the lack of real political competition and had pointed the finger at the “continuous pressure on critical voices”.

Abbas Gallyamov, a political analyst who once wrote Putin's speeches, described the popular vote as a vote in which “the multiple choice was replaced with a simple, dichotomous one: 'Are you for or against Putin?'” It will be “a referendum on the question of war”, explained the analyst, “voting for Putin will mean voting for war”.