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Russian Election Begins

President Vladimir Putin is expected to claim a fifth presidential term as Russia begins its three-day election today. The vote will include inhabitants of regions of Ukraine occupied by Russia since 2022, a roughly 46,000 square mile area. The election comes a month after the death of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  

Putin has led Russia as either prime minister or president since 1999. While Russia's 1993 constitution implemented term limits, referendums and amendments since have allowed Putin to keep power. The 71-year-old retains high approval ratings, and Russia's economy has withstood broad international sanctions initiated after the invasion. 

Observers claim the government's control of candidates and its ban on independent media have effectively neutralized opponents' ability to compete with Putin. While the three opposition candidates have levied criticisms against the regime, all support the Ukraine war. An antiwar candidate, Boris Nadezhdin, was barred from the ballot last month. See war updates here.

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