Putin Appeals to Russians for Votes Amid Tough Times Ahead of Polls

Putin Appeals to Russians for Votes Amid Tough Times Ahead of Polls

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President Vladimir Putin made a plea to Russians to stay resilient during what he described as a “difficult period,” just hours before polls open in a vote set to prolong his firm leadership.

Putin, a former KGB agent, is poised to secure another six-year term in the upcoming vote, which the Kremlin asserts will demonstrate the nation’s unwavering support for his stance on Ukraine.

Addressing the nation on the eve of the vote, Putin acknowledged the challenges facing Russia: “I am convinced: you realize what a difficult period our country is going through, what complex challenges we are facing in almost all areas.” He emphasized the importance of unity and self-assurance in overcoming these challenges.

A victory in the March 15-17 election will grant Putin an extended stay in the Kremlin until at least 2030, surpassing the tenure of any Russian leader since Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century. Putin has held sway over Russia since his appointment by his predecessor Boris Yeltsin at the close of 1999, serving as president or prime minister ever since.

While his initial years in office saw economic prosperity fueled by the country’s abundant energy resources, Putin’s rule witnessed a tightening grip on domestic dissent and heightened confrontation with the West. Abroad, he escalated tensions by intervening in Ukraine, culminating in the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine before launching a full-scale offensive in 2022.

With his major critics either silenced, incarcerated, or exiled, Putin perceives Russian society as unified under his leadership. He urged Russians to stay on the path of defending the nation’s freedom, sovereignty, and security, describing the upcoming vote as an opportunity to demonstrate patriotic sentiments.

Voting will also occur in four recently occupied Ukrainian territories and the annexed Crimean peninsula. Putin lauded the participation of soldiers stationed in conflict zones, portraying their involvement in the election as an act of courage and heroism.

While Kyiv has dismissed the election as a charade, targeting individuals involved, Russia appears emboldened by recent gains in Ukraine and the demise of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

No genuine opposition candidate is on the ballot, with Putin facing off against Kremlin-approved contenders from parties aligned with his policies. Recent arrests of campaign staff for pro-peace candidate Boris Nadezhdin underscore the restricted nature of the electoral process.

Against the backdrop of heightened tensions, Kyiv has escalated aerial attacks on Russia, targeting oil refineries and border towns, marking significant drone strikes on Russian territory since the conflict began in 2022.

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