Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the Gorky Automobile Plant in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Dec. 6, 2017. (Kremlin Photo)
MOSCOW, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is very likely to secure a new term in the 2018 election as he enjoys wide support from the ruling United Russia party and the society. However, domestic problems and external pressure could be his real test.
Putin on Wednesday announced his long-anticipated bid for a fourth presidential term in March during a visit to an auto factory in Nizhny Novgorod City, 400 km east of Moscow.
While Russia faces the arduous tasks of developing her economy while defending national interests against the West, Putin seems to be the only option. If he predictably wins the elections, his strong political figure will continue to lead the world’s largest country until 2024.
Putin has proved that much can be done and has always done everything in his capacity to protect the people and his country from problems, said Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s State Duma lower parliament house.
“The United Russia party certainly supports Putin’s decision to participate in the election and it will provide all necessary support,” said Andrei Turchak, acting secretary of the party’s general council, adding that the corresponding decision will be fixed at the party congress on Dec. 22-23 in Moscow.
“Putin enjoys confidence and support from a huge number of Russians. And he, of course, will be the absolute favorite of the presidential race,” Russian business ombudsman Boris Titov said.
So far, more than 10 politicians have announced their intention to run for presidency, including Boris Titov; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; and Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
According to a survey conducted by polling agency Levada Center on Nov. 24-28, 53 percent of the Russians would vote for Putin if the election was to be held on the nearest Sunday. Zhirinovsky and Zyuganov ranked in the second and third place, gaining just 4 and 3 percent, respectively.
A young taxi driver said he liked Putin because he was able to resist Western pressure and safeguard Russia’s interests.
Since Putin became the president for the first time in 2000, Russia has been playing an important role in the world arena while exerting significant influence in many global and regional affairs. Russia incorporated Crimea and led the Syrian settlement after actively bombing terrorists there.
Putin’s announcement for the presidential candidacy came a day after the International Olympic Committee decided to ban Russian participation in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, the latest sign of crumbling Russia-West relations.
Russia and the United States are unlikely to see any thawing ties until the next U.S. presidential election and the impasse will negatively affect Russia in the medium and long term, said Dmitry Suslov, an expert at the Moscow-based National Research University Higher School of Economics.
At home, the economy has struggled out of recession this year but the recovery is still frail and largely dependent on global energy prices.
According to Zyuganov, industrial production is declining and many people are living in poverty. All this, while the country has been blocked by sanctions.
“If we talk about how people will vote, those who now live well will vote for Putin and those who live bad will vote for me,” said Zhirinovsky.
Titov said he will present the society with another economic model during the presidential campaign: Creating new sources of growth and developing new enterprises, instead of one based on raw materials.