Presidential Vote 2012
The run-up to the 2012 presidential election has been marked by the rise of an invigorated opposition movement amid increasing public dissatisfaction with the current government. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the former president, is nonetheless widely expected to garner the most support in the March 4 vote.
The ballot has been set and includes five candidates: Putin, nominated by the United Russia party, which he leads but is not a member of; Sergei Mironov, founder of the A Just Russia party; Mikhail Prokhorov, a billionaire businessman and the only independent candidate; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party; and Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party.
All four candidates put forward by political parties are long-time players in Russian politics. Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, and Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov both ran for president unsuccessfully in 2008. Mironov and Prokhorov are first-time candidates.
The presidential vote comes after controversial State Duma elections in December. The ruling United Russia party barely maintained their majority in the vote, gaining the support of about 50% of voters, amid accusations by the opposition of widespread voting fraud in favor of United Russia.
The election results sparked protests in major cities across Russia that were the largest in two decades. The largest were in Moscow at Bolotnaya Ploshchad on Dec. 10, on Prospekt Akademika Sakharova on Dec. 24, and a march along Bolshaya Yakimanka that ended in a rally again at Bolotnaya Ploshchad on Feb. 4.
Putin supporters have responded by initiating a series of their own demonstrations, beginning with an “anti-orange” event on Feb. 4 in Moscow at which participants held signs with slogans denouncing the West and supporting the nation's long-time leader. As more pro-Putin events began to be held across the country, they even acquired their own name: “Puting,” a combination of the prime minister's name and the Russian word “miting,” meaning demonstration.