The Kremlin has started preparing for the 2024 presidential campaign under the assumption that it will go on as planned despite Russia’s grinding military campaign in Ukraine, the Kommersant business daily reported Friday, citing unnamed sources.
President Vladimir Putin, 70, has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999. While Russian presidents are constitutionally limited to two terms, he gained the ability to seek election for a fifth term under 2020 constitutional amendments that reset the number of terms he has served.
The Kremlin’s domestic policy bloc believes Putin will seek re-election in 2024, Kommersant reported, adding that it had recently held preliminary talks with experts on the main components of his campaign.
“The outlines of the ideological component are still unclear, though it is assumed that it will be based on the theme of unity,” the publication said.
Russia’s next presidential election is scheduled for March 17, 2024.
Russia’s upper house of parliament is expected to kick off the presidential campaign in December 2023.
This fall’s regional elections across two dozen regions, including the Ukrainian territories Russia claims to have annexed, are expected to serve as a “testing ground” for next year’s ballot, according to Kommersant.
Citing one source, Kommersant said the Kremlin will conduct both campaigns with an eye on the “same special conditions” of unprecedented Western sanctions, banned social networks and the appearance of Ukraine war veterans as a new voting bloc.
“There will be a huge number of challenges this year. The elections will be held under the conditions of a special military operation, sanctions and escalation in international relations,” they were quoted as saying.
“We’ll be able to look at the opponents’ technological solutions this year,” the source said without elaborating. “So this is a really good year to test these solutions.”
Other political analysts cautioned that shifting conditions on the ground pose risks for Kremlin strategists next year.
“The 2024 campaign differs from all the previous ones in that it won’t be held under servile conditions, and by the time it begins, things could change dramatically,” said analyst Vladimir Shemyakin.