Putin: confirmation done and dusted

Last weekend's presidential election in Russia has ended with the expected result: Vladimir Putin has been confirmed as the country's leader until 2030 - having officially secured 87.28 percent of the vote. Observers reported well over 1,000 cases of irregularities and opposition candidates were not allowed to stand. Europe's press discusses the takeaways from the vote.

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Berlingske (DK) /

Total control is possible

Other dictators will take a page out of the Kremlin boss's book, Berlingske fears:

“The election shows that even today - and despite technology that transcends borders - it is still possible to wield total power over a country. ... The rulers in China and North Korea have never loosened their grip on power, and have learned to use technology to preserve their dictatorship. Putin has learned to do the same, and this is actually harder to do when previously there was a certain degree of freedom. The really shocking insight of the elections in Russia is that democracy can grow a little and then be completely crushed. The elections in Russia have allowed other autocratic leaders to lick blood.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Path clear for more purges

In his column for NRC, Russia expert Hubert Smeets fears a wave of Stalin-style state terror:

“The political opposition has been either murdered (Navalny), imprisoned (Kara-Murza) or chased out of the country. ... Soon the administrative and economic elite may also be purged. Civil society in Russia has already been crushed. What little remains he can simply wipe out. Russians who nonetheless want to stand up for their last shred of civic autonomy and freedom have few alternatives. Any path to a peaceful takeover of political power may well have been blocked by this election result.”

T24 (TR) /

Turkey in a tricky position

For T24, a victorious Putin poses a risk for Russia's neighbours to the south:

“The result gives Putin the opportunity to do whatever he wants in his fight against the US and Nato. ... The world and the regions where Turkey is located (Black Sea, Caucasus, Middle East, etc.) may be increasingly influenced politically by the conflict between Russia and the West, and international and regional stability could be seriously jeopardised. Under these circumstances, it is crucial for Turkey to prioritise national security and economic interests in its relations with Russia, to continue its mediation efforts between the West, Kyiv and Moscow, but at the same time carefully avoid risky areas such as trade and military cooperation.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Putinism will survive Putin

Putin isn't the only one responsible for the political situation in Russia, Phileleftheros argues:

“The problem is that those who might come after Vladimir Putin are not known for their democratic ideals either. ... They are a circle of middle-aged men with the same mentality and way of thinking. Their goal is to stay as close as possible to power so that they and their supporters can benefit. It is therefore very likely that Putinism will continue to exist even after Vladimir Putin has disappeared from the scene. ... Russia's political and economic elite will ensure that power is transferred from Putin to someone like him.”

Večernji list (HR) /

He has convinced the majority

The majority of Russians seem to support the president despite everything, says Večernji list:

“Despite the public demonstration of dissatisfaction there can be no doubt that Putin enjoys convincing support in the country, although the figure of 87 percent certainly implies electoral irregularities. With this result, Putin wants to prove to the world and the West in particular how completely he controls Russia, but also that his war against Ukraine will continue unhindered. ... Putin has convinced the majority of Russians that the war in Ukraine is a war with which Russia is protecting itself from the decadent West, just as the Soviet Union protected itself from Nazi Germany in the Second World War.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Not a self-appointed president

Ukrainska Pravda looks for the right words to describe Putin:

“Even if the suspicion that millions of votes in Putin's favour were falsified is correct, there can be no doubt that he would have also won the election in Russia if the count had been fair. ... The Russians also support the war he has unleashed against Ukraine. ... This is the Russians' war against our state, not 'Putin's war'. That's why all concepts that separate Putin from his people and pin the blame on him alone are incorrect. ... That is why we will not use the term 'self-appointed president' even after Putin's re-inauguration. ... He is and remains: ruler of the Russian Federation.”

Index (HU) /

Older generation led by nostalgia

This is also about a generational conflict, observes journalist Tamás Péter in Index:

“The silencing of Nadezhdin and the liquidation of Navalny can be seen not only from the perspective that the opposition leaders in Putin's Russia have no say, but also from the perspective that the generations ten to twenty years younger than the current power elite will have no chance of bringing about political change in the near future. ... The real power resides with Putin and the siloviki [representatives of the security services], who are all members of the generation born in the 1950s. This is the generation whose thinking is still dominated by nostalgia for the Cold War era and Soviet imperialism.”

Webcafé (BG) /

Putin beats Putin

Webcafé columnist Dragomir Simeonov scoffs:

“I heard there were elections in Russia. I'd completely forgotten that they have a democracy there at all. Oddly enough, the Russians still haven't given up faking them yet. And once again the choice was: Putin or Putin! I wish they'd put the real names of his doubles on the ballot slips so people wouldn't get confused. Anyway, nobody cares about the final result because it's been decided long in advance.”

Jurnalul National (RO) /

Next step could be general mobilisation

Putin will use the result to step up the war against Ukraine, Jurnalul National is convinced:

“With a massive turnout and a landslide victory, Putin wanted to demonstrate that he has overwhelming support for the invasion of the neighbouring country. This means the final tally could give the Kremlin leader a major boost for the war in Ukraine. He can now order a general mobilisation in Russia, with additional troops being sent to the front. As US military aid for Kyiv continues to be blocked in Congress and European commitments are delayed, this would put enormous pressure on Ukraine's defences and shift the balance in this confrontation in Moscow's favour.”

El Mundo (ES) /

Only his defeat can bring renewal

El Mundo views Putin's current strength with concern:

“The elections served to politically entrench a war in which time is playing in the Kremlin's favour. Putin trusts that the Western allies will be worn down, as the recent confrontation between Macron and Scholz has shown. ... Putin has never been stronger in the past two years. ... This scenario obliges Europe to do everything it can to defend Kyiv against a Russia that has become an existential threat and could in the future absorb former Soviet republics that are now European, such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. ... Putin's defeat is also the only possible path to a transition to democracy, the lifting of sanctions and Russia's reintegration into the international community.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Queues as a sign of change

La Stampa sees an omen:

“Queues are back in Russia. The disappearance of the famous phenomenon typical of Soviet socialism was seen as a great victory - a measure of the new post-communist nation's success, at least economically. ... But the weeks leading up to Putin's so-called election were again characterised by long queues. First the queues of supporters for Boris Nadezhdin. ... Then the kilometre-long queues of people paying their last respects at Alexei Navalny's grave. Yesterday Russian voters abroad waited for hours outside embassies. And queues formed outside many polling stations in major Russian cities at around 12 noon, the hour chosen by Putin's critics to show that they still exist.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Opposition in exile is irrelevant

Ukrainska Pravda complains:

“The main characteristic of the Russian opposition is that it is not an opposition. This status is naturally inseparable from the struggle for power, but hardly anyone seriously sees those who have left the country as the bearers of Russia's future. As long as the power vertical in Russia resembles a mast crackling with tension, the only role left to the Russian opposition is that of dissidents. In other words, of those who merely defend their right to stand on the sidelines while the others march on the parade ground. ... The Russian emigrants have no influence on events in the country. ... Before the war, their main agenda was to fight corruption - and even back then that was not Russia's biggest problem.”

Savon Sanomat (FI) /

The Russians chose their ruler

A change of government in Russia cannot be brought about from outside the country, Savon Sanomat stresses:

“It's important to remember that the Russians themselves chose their future ruler when they turned against Boris Yeltsin, who had promoted civil liberties and democracy in the 1990s. The situation came to a head in 1998 with the economic crisis. The people wanted order, and that's what they got. The Russian power apparatus cannot be changed by anyone but the Russians themselves. The spectacle last summer when Yevgeny Prigozhin challenged the war in Ukraine showed that anything can happen in a very short space of time.”