Leading article: Mr Putin must face the new reality

 

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday's announcement by the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, that he will seek the presidency again will have surprised no one.

That he intended to stand has been clear since 24 September, when he accepted the nomination of the governing party, United Russia. It was a move that at once sidelined the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev and seemed to confirm the theory that Mr Putin's four years as Prime Minister were little more than a technical interlude, allowing him to comply with the letter of the country's Constitution.

What has also been clear since last September, however, is that Mr Putin's journey back to the presidency will not be as smooth or as simple as he, and most of the outside world, probably expected. Rather than the public acclaim he had been used to, Mr Putin has faced booing from a disgruntled public and a barrage of criticism from sections of the Russian media, especially from its vibrant blogosphere. United Russia suffered swingeing losses in parliamentary elections in December, which were followed by street protests complaining about rigging and demanding his resignation.

The Russia of 2012 is not the Russia of 2004, when Mr Putin swept to re-election, nor is it the Russia of 2008, when Mr Medvedev was assured of victory, as Mr Putin's protégé. Most Russians are richer than they were. The professional middle class has grown. Fewer voters remember the harsh reality of life under communism; even the economic chaos of the 1990s has faded, for many, into the past.

It is a paradox that, while Mr Putin can claim credit for many of these developments – and did so in some detail when he made his announcement yesterday – they have come back to bite him in the form of a less compliant, more sophisticated and more demanding electorate. What that electorate lacks, however, is a credible opposition candidate, or candidates – which is another, much more negative, reflection on Mr Putin's 12 years at the top. This is why, even if the 4 March election produces the expected result – a third-term – President Putin will need to recognise Russia's new reality or risk the very stability on which his remaining popularity rests.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
Andreas Lubitz runs the Airport Race half marathon in Hamburg on 13 September 2009  

Being sensitive to mental health need not lead us to downplay the horror of what Lubitz did

Will Gore
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing