Russia’s 2024 Presidential Election: What to Know

  • Why does this election matter?

  • Does Putin face any serious challengers?

  • Will the Kremlin manipulate the results?

  • Can Russians protest?

  • Can Putin remain president for life?

  • When will the results be known?

  • Where can I find more information?

Why does this election matter?

The presidential vote in Russia, which begins Friday and lasts through Sunday, features the trappings of a horse race but is more of a predetermined, Soviet-style referendum.

President Vladimir V. Putin, 71, will undoubtedly win a fifth term, with none of the three other candidates who are permitted on the ballot presenting a real challenge. The main opposition figure who worked to spoil the vote, Aleksei A. Navalny, a harsh critic of Mr. Putin and the Ukraine war, died in an Arctic prison last month.

Still, the vote is significant for Mr. Putin as a way to cement his legitimacy and refurbish his preferred image as the embodiment of security and stability. That image was tarnished when the war, advertised as a speedy operation to topple the government in Kyiv, turned into a slog that caused hundreds of thousands of casualties, ruptured relations with the West and ushered in harsher domestic repression.

“The Kremlin needs to demonstrate huge popular support, and that this support has increased since the beginning of the war,” said Nikolay Petrov, a Russian political scientist at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.

Does Putin face any serious challengers?

The Kremlin habitually ensures that Mr. Putin faces no real competition. The other candidates — all members of the State Duma, Russia’s rubber-stamp Parliament — voted for the war in Ukraine, for increased censorship and for laws curbing gay rights.

Nikolai Kharitonov, 75, of the Communist Party, already lost badly to Mr. Putin in 2004.

Leonid Slutsky, 56 of the Liberal Democratic Party, a nationalist group loyal to Mr. Putin, has said he will not rally voters against the president.

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