As the writer of Russian politics and international relations on the Mulgrave Gazette, my main focus is on Russia’s movements on the political stage of Europe and the world. However, the key manipulator of Russia’s politics is none other than its horse-riding strongman president, Vladimir Putin. 

But before I continue, I would like to make a disclaimer: although these updates will be comprised mostly of factual news, I will be providing my own analyses. However, I am not a political analyst and I am not in any way affiliated with anything Russian, although I would like to say, for the record, I like my potatoes and carbs just as much as your average Slav.

So without further ado…

MOSCOW • On December 6th, before a crowd of roaring supporters, Putin made the much-anticipated confirmation that he will be running again for president at the 2018 Russian election to be held in March. Unlike the usual way Putin delivers his announcement—through national broadcast on live TV—the Russian president had announced his decision at a car factory he was visiting after the workers’ excited prompting and questions.

I am very confident Putin will win. He has so deftly manipulated the politics of Russia in his favour that it would be extremely difficult for any opposition to gain a secure footing. For one, the opposition will only have minimal access to national television, if they are granted any at all; the Kremlin does not seem to favour oppositions and have also posed countless hurtles in the application process just to become a candidate.

If Putin wins, this will be his fourth term and would mean his tenure would be extended to 24 years; he will be the second-longest reigning leader in the post-imperial times after Joseph Stalin, who sat in the Kremlin for nearly 30 years.

WHAT HAS GONE DOWN SO FAR

If you find this article too long and arduous to slog through like the snow in Siberia, please, there is a TL;DR at the bottom.

But if you are still here, read on!

Recently, the United States of America has published a list of names of the oligarchs and businessmen close to the Kremlin. Oligarchs, explained in a previous article, are “the most wealthy elite of [Russia who] possess a great deal of political influence; their wealth was mostly accumulated during the dissolution of the USSR, when the state was in a disarray.”

Although not stated specifically why and what the list has been created for, it is likely a sanction law which its aim is to get back at Putin for his alleged meddling in the 2017 American election. One example of the 96 businessmen on the list is Roman Abramovich, the owner of the prestigious football club, Chelsea FC.

Waging an economic war, the US has targeted Putin’s closest allies—it was under Putin that many of his oligarch friends’ businesses have flourished. Hence, by doing this, the US is seeking to weaken Putin’s grasp on the elites of the Russian society, arguably his most powerful and loyal allies. For in the early days of Putin’s presidency, he ensured he had the support of the oligarchs by making a deal—as long as they supported him, he and the Kremlin would not meddle in their businesses. Now, putting Russia’s elites on edge, this “blacklist” will likely have them questioning their allegiance to Putin and the Kremlin.

Several unnamed businessmen with billions to their name have expressed concerns over having been put on the list; the Kremlin claims they are “not aware” of this (*do not believe anything unless the Kremlin denies it*). However, oil mogul Gennady Timchenko—a very close friend of Putin—has called his inclusion on the “blacklist” as “an honour” for him (please, where can I find friends like this??? All my friends do is leave me on read).

Putin himself have addressed this list, calling it a “hostile step” that complicates the already tenuous Russian-American relation.

THE OPPOSITION

In this election, it seems a man that may have to capability to strike fear into Putin has emerged. His name is Alexey Anatolievich Navalny. A lawyer by trade, Navalny has gained fame for being a Putin critic, even daring to slam the Russian president as the “Tsar of Corruption” in a country where many reporters and journalists have met their end in suspicious manners for having been too outspoken. Nonetheless, in the recent months, Navalny has gained momentum and supporters. As early as 2011, he has been leading rallies calling for fair elections and has been publishing—EXPOSING—his investigations on the true net worth of top Kremlin officials.

The Kremlin has, many times, attempted to thwart him. They are believed to be behind the not one, but two acid attack that left Navalny with chemical burns and green dye on his face for days; Navalny turned this into his favour by joking that the Kremlin has only accomplished making him look like Shrek—and more people will be watching his campaign videos because… well, you don’t see a campaigning politician looking like Shrek everyday.

In late December, the Kremlin announced their decision to bar Navalny from entering the election on the grounds of embezzlement and fraud. Navalny has since called for a boycotting the election and on January 30th, he was marching with his supporters on the streets of Moscow when he was detained by the police (and not the first time so).

It is important to note that although it is unlikely he would win were he allowed to become a candidate in the election—suggested by the preliminary polling—the Kremlin’s many attempts to thwart him goes to show how much he has set the government on edge.

In conclusion, it seems Putin, and by association United Russia, would remain in control of Russia. The Mulgrave Gazette seeks to keep you updated, so don’t forget to check on us—for here at the Mulgrave Gazette, I as the editor of Russian politics seek to inform our readers upon these matters, because Russia’s very own state-sponsored news program, Russia Today has simply no intentions whatsoever to inform you what is really happening in Russia today. 

TL;DR

A picture speaks a thousand words…

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