President Putin’s aides are worried about his legitimacy waning in the absence of a strong turnout
As President Putin seeks a fourth term in office, the Kremlin has ordered regional officials to turn next year’s election into a festive “holiday” to try to boost turnout.
In line with orders from above, polling day on March 18 will be accompanied by “cultural and sporting events and markets.”Music and theatre groups are expected to perform and stalls at polling stations will sell food and other goods.
These measures have become necessary because Mr Putin's aides are worried that voters are unexcited about an election in which no powerful opponents will challenge him.Alexei Navalny, 41, the lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner who is Mr Putin’s most virulent critic, declared his intention to run a year ago but he Mr Navalny’s supporters say that the charge was fabricated on Kremlin orders to keep him out of politics.
Ksenia Sobchak, 36, a journalist and former socialite who has criticised the authorities, also intends to run but her candidacy has been dismissed by many as a Kremlin-approved ploy to liven up the vote. She is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, a former mayor of St Petersburg who is Mr Putin’s mentor.