Russians Know Putin Will Be Re-Elected, but Many Worry What Comes Next

Maria and her husband, Aleksandr, are certain that President Vladimir V. Putin will secure a fifth term as Russia’s leader in the presidential election this weekend.

But the couple, who live in Moscow with their three children, are not so sure about what will follow. Foremost in their minds are fears that Mr. Putin, emboldened by winning a new six-year term, might declare another mobilization for soldiers to fight in Ukraine. Aleksandr, 38, who left Russia shortly after Mr. Putin announced the first mobilization in September 2022 but recently returned, is even considering leaving the country again, his wife said.

“I only hear about mobilization — that there is a planned offensive for the summer and that troops need rotation,” Maria, 34, said in a WhatsApp exchange. She declined to allow the couple’s family name to be used, fearing repercussions from the government.

Many Russians have been worrying about a multitude of issues before the vote, which started on Friday and takes place over three days. Though the Russian authorities have denied that another mobilization for the war is planned, a sense of unease persists.

The concerns appear to be grounded in the possibility that Mr. Putin will use his unfettered power to make changes he avoided before the vote. Denis Volkov, the director of the Levada Center, one of the few independent pollsters in Russia, said those anxieties were still felt mainly by the minority of Russians who oppose the government.

While a potential mobilization remains the biggest cause of concern, there is unease, too, over finances and the economy. Some Russians worry that the ruble, which has been propped up by the government after plunging last year, might be allowed to depreciate again, raising the cost of imports. Businesspeople worry about higher taxes, and opposition activists expect more crackdowns on dissent.

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