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Vladimir Putin – Afraid of looking old

Vladimir Putin – Afraid of looking old

Despite what many see as predictable results, a lot is happening behind the scenes ahead of Russia’s presidential elections next year.

The independent Russian newspaper Meduza interviewed sources said to have close ties to the Russian presidential administration. The administration, led by Sergei Kiriyenko, is said to decide who can become a real challenger to Putin.

According to the newspaper’s sources, Kiriyenko and the administration have a clear demand: that the candidates be at least 50 years old.

– old

The reason is the fear that this will make the 70-year-old Russian president look old in the eyes of voters.

– I am absolutely sure that Putin’s presidential administration is in close contact with the leaders of the three parties. But it is not a given that they agree on specific details such as age, Jorn Holm Hansen, senior researcher at NIBR-OsloMet, tells Dagbladet.

According to Meduza, the presidential administration expects three parties to challenge Putin’s United Russia party with its candidate in next year’s elections: the Communist Party, the New People’s Party, which was founded in 2020, and the Russian Liberal Democratic Party.

These parties are loyal to the Kremlin and do not directly criticize Putin.

– But they are often quick to criticize government policy on matters that have nothing to do with Putin’s position or the country’s security, notes Holm Hansen.

I’d rather die than lie


On paper, the New People’s Party is more centrist and more liberal.

They are liberal inclined, but within the system and friendly to the Kremlin. Holm Hansen says they are there to attract voters who would have voted for parties critical of the regime.

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According to Meduza’s sources, it is the candidate from here who is challenging the Kremlin’s ageist narrative. The party is said to want to propose Vladislav Davankov, deputy speaker of Russia’s State Duma, as its candidate.

– He’s quite a politician who believes in order, but it’s about age, says Medusa’s source.

He is 39 years old, loves PR and has charisma. The source says he won’t get much support, but he can make voters think about Putin’s age.

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Concerned about age

Over the years, several high-ranking figures in Putin’s party have told the newspaper that there is concern in Russia about Putin’s aging.

It is alleged that the president is now referred to as “grandfather” among people in his administration, rather than “father” or “boss” as was the case in the past.

But it is not just the age aspect that the Putin administration fears will put him at a disadvantage.

The Russian Communist Party, a descendant of the party organization that ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist, ran in the last presidential election with a candidate who had become too popular for Putin’s taste:

Pavel Grudinin.

So popular?  It is out of the question that Pavel Grudinin, a member of the Communist Party, is a rival of Putin, according to sources in Putin's administration.  The reason is that his popularity could make things awkward for Putin.  Photo: George Grebas/UPI/Shutterstock

So popular? It is out of the question that Pavel Grudinin, a member of the Communist Party, is a rival of Putin, according to sources in Putin’s administration. The reason is that his popularity could make things awkward for Putin. Photo: George Grebas/UPI/Shutterstock
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He himself was a candidate for the Communist Party during the previous presidential elections held in 2018.

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Meduza’s sources claim that this time he is of no importance as an opponent of Putin. At least with the Putin administration itself.

“It came like a breath of fresh air, and it’s starting to become very popular,” says Holm Hansen.

– Then the presidential administration found him dirty.

The Putin administration launched an all-out PR campaign against Grudinin, who eventually won 11.9% of the vote in the election.

Despite the campaigns launched by Putin’s apparatus against him, Holm Hansen does not think he will have any chance against Putin in the elections.

– not at all. But the administration was afraid he would get so much support that it might be embarrassing, says Holm Hansen. He continues:

– Perhaps it would have been so big that Putin would have received less than 50 percent of the support. Then, according to the law, the elections had to take place in a second round with two candidates, and there could be a situation reminiscent of a referendum for or against Putin, says Holm Hansen.

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– You can’t lose face

Although Putin would likely have won this, the situation itself would have been an unsustainable embarrassment for the Russian president, Holm Hansen believes.

He can’t lose face. He has to prove he’s at the top of the system by a wide margin, or the people around him will disappear.

Instead, Meduza’s sources claim that the presidential administration wants Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov as a candidate, as he considers his popularity to be very limited among Russian voters.

He has led the party since its departure from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

– His concern is the greatness of Russia, the evil of the West, and the rights of retirees. Holm Hansen says he is unlikely to be able to mobilize new voters, except for some wheelchair-bound retirees.

The party did not vote on who would nominate him.

- Despicable person

– Despicable person

– acrobat

The third alternative, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, is considered, despite its name, to be the most far-right in the Kremlin. Until the spring of 2022, it was led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, one of Russia’s most controversial political figures.

He has distinguished himself with a number of controversial plans, including what Russia should do Reclaim Alaska from the United States By force, return Ukraine’s Lviv to Poland, and Russia should not give it up An atomic bomb hits the home of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

In a speech in 2017, he threatened to “drive to the Kremlin, shoot and hang” his political opponents, according to the Russian newspaper The Independent. Moscow Times.

Holm Hansen refers to him as an entertaining “clown”. Since Zhirinovsky’s death on March 25, 2022, the party has been led by Leonid Slutsky.

– It may be difficult for them to find a suitable place, after the whole of Russia has moved politically strongly to the right, in an aggressive and ultra-patriotic direction, he says.