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On the Outs? Two Newly Approved Presidential Candidates to Challenge Putin's Vice-Like Grip on Russia

Russia Registers 2 Candidates Going Up Against Putin in 2024 Elections
Source: MEGA; State Duma

The Election Commission has registered Leonid Slutsky (left) of the right-wing nationalist Liberal Democratic Party.; Vladislav Davankov (right) of the New People party, also the Deputy Speaker of the State Duma.

Jan. 9 2024, Published 11:01 a.m. ET

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The National Election Commission of Russia has granted approval to the initial two candidates slated to challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin in the country's upcoming elections.

The Election Commission has officially recognized Leonid Slutsky from the right-wing nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov from the New People party as contenders for the Presidential elections scheduled to be held March 15 to 17.

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Both candidates are affiliated with parliamentary parties and hold positions in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Slutsky serves as the head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, while Davankov holds the position of Deputy Speaker.

The candidates' parties have shown substantial support for legislation endorsed by Putin's power-base party, United Russia.

The Liberal Democratic Party, chaired by Slutsky, previously contested against Putin in the last Presidential elections but had a limited showing, earning less than 6% of the vote in the 2018 elections.

In contrast, the New People party, established in 2020, currently holds 15 seats in the 450-member State Duma.

The Russian Election Commission has also accepted the registration of Nikolai Kharitonov from the Communists of Russia party, acting as a proxy for Sergei Malinkovich, the party's Chairman. Kharitonov's nomination by party members took place on Dec. 28.

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However, since the Russian Communist Party is non-parliamentary, Kharitonov is required to submit 100,000 signatures by Jan. 31 to be officially recognized, according to Radio Free Europe's Russian news service.

Kharitonov previously contested as the Communist Party's candidate in the 2004 Presidential elections, finishing a distant second to Putin.

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In the upcoming 2024 election, Putin will run as an independent candidate. In accordance with Russian law, an independent candidate must be nominated by at least 500 supporters and gather a minimum of 300,000 signatures from 40 or more regions.

Since Slutsky and Davankov represent parliamentary parties, they were exempt from the requirement to collect voter signatures for candidacy.

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Putin has maintained dominance in the Presidential elections since his initial victory in 2000, a phenomenon attributed by to his "vice-like grip on the political system," which has intensified over his 24-year rule, particularly with the suppression of prominent critics.

It is noteworthy that the National Election Commission of Russia declined the candidacy of Yekaterina Duntsova, a journalist turned politician advocating for peace in Ukraine. Despite aspiring to run as an independent candidate, the Commission prevented Duntsova from collecting signatures for her self-nomination, alleging "more than a hundred errors were found in her documents," according to Radio Free Europe.

Duntsova had previously expressed fear about challenging Putin in the March elections but emphasized her intention to provide a contrasting alternative to Putin's authoritative style by embodying an image of "softness, kindness, [and] peace" as a female candidate.


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