Russia to test voting system set to further support efforts to help Putin

Vladimir Putin is believed to be preparing for his next victory at the polls, despite the Russian president not having yet confirmed he will take part in the next presidential election.

Russian government services portal Gosuslugi is inviting voters in Russia to test a new remote electronic system, an opposition news outlet in the country, Meduza, has claimed.

The invitation, sent via letters, also stated the test is open to all adult Russian citizens.

A government source reported by the news outlet claimed the Kremlin wants to see as many Russian federal voters as possible vote through this new system in the next presidential election taking place in March.

This report was analysed by the Institute of the Study of War (ISW), which said Russia may be introducing this new voting system “likely to further support efforts to manipulate the results in favour of Russian President Vladimir Putin”.

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Putin has not yet confirmed whether he will take part in the next elections.

However, the fact he secured constitutional changes in 2022, including an amendment allowing him to run again for the presidency and stay in power until 2036, is a major hint he will do so.

In August, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed the president had not yet announced his decision.

However, Mr Peskov brazenly said Putin would “be re-elected next year with more than 90 percent of the vote” should he run.

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A few days prior, the spokesman had claimed the Russian presidential poll “is not really democracy, it is costly bureaucracy”.

He later claimed to have been misquoted by Western media, explaining he meant that Russians “theoretically” didn’t need to vote as it’s “obvious” the majority would freely choose to keep Putin in power.

Putin, who rose to power in 2000, has been widely accused of implementing a systematic crackdown on his critics and political opponents over the years, leaving him without any credible adversary on the political stage.

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The Kremlin rejects allegations that Russian elections aren’t fair and free.

The Russian president is far from being the only leader widely accused of not holding fair elections in his country.

One of Putin’s closest allies, Alexander Lukashenko, was credited with receiving more than 80 percent of the votes in the August 2020 elections held in Belarus.

But international monitors and opposition candidates have cast doubts on the legitimacy of these results, with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, wife of presidential candidate Syarhei Tsikhanouski arrested ahead of the 2020 vote, claiming to have won a first-round victory with at least 60 percent of the vote.

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