Choosing casual men When examining Putin’s list of ‘sparring partners’ for the 2024 presidential election, the Kremlin insisted that younger candidates be kept out of the race.

Under the leadership of Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko, the Kremlin’s domestic policy team has mostly determined who will run against Vladimir Putin in the upcoming 2024 presidential election, sources told Meduza. Kiriyenko’s staff carefully screened these candidates, who are often described as “Putin’s sparring partners”, and it turned out that one of the main selection criteria was age. Meduza Special Correspondent Andrey Bertsev He spoke with Russian government insiders about Putin’s re-election campaign and who he would be allowed to run against.

Two Kremlin insiders told Medusa that politicians under the age of 50 were deliberately excluded from the nomination, because having a younger candidate on the ballot could make voters pause and wonder if the 70-year-old Putin is still the same person “who” he was. He came to power with a “firm hand.”

Putin is set to run against candidates from three Russian parliamentary parties: the Communist Party (CPRF), the far-right Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), and the centrist New People’s Party. Another institutional party, Just Russia – For Truth, and its leader, Sergei Mironov, have already done so. announce and that, rather than running a candidate of its own, Just Russia would endorse Putin.

As for the RCP, its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, is to be nominated. According to an informed source, “black horses” like Pavel Grudinin (nominated by the Communists in 2018) will not be allowed to run this time:

The president already knows Zyuganov, who also enjoys high status as party leader, and voters already know his name. It also comes with a built-in cap, as it will not attract any new voters outside its ossified constituency.

Zyuganov won 17% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election, and then 18% when he ran again in 2012. This kind of predictable performance will be very important in the next election, given the plan to re-elect Putin “with results.” Standard” (the goal is 80 percent of the vote with a turnout of 70 percent or more).

A less predictable candidate like Grudinin could easily derail matters: And indeed, it did in 2018, when Grudinin’s approval ratings began to skyrocket, forcing the Putin administration to launch a full-blown smear campaign. A tired existence like Zyuganov will not turn into a problem, says a United Russia insider. (A recent Levada Center poll ranked public opinion trust In Zyuganov by three percent, while he won the confidence of his party evaluation (10.2 percent, according to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center).

As the Kremlin envisions, the LDP will nominate Leonid Slutsky, party leader and chairman of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee. In 2018, three Russian journalists (Farida Rustamova, Daria Zhuk, and Ekaterina Kutrikadze of TV Rain) accused Slutsky of unwanted sexual harassment, but the State Duma ethics committee found nothing wrong with the deputy’s behavior.

A source close to the president’s administration says that Slutsky himself wouldn’t mind running “because he loves publicity.” Another spokesperson, familiar with the LDP leadership, echoes this impression, adding that Slutsky “loves to be seen in public” and will use the campaign to “increase his visibility”. Slutsky’s face is already on the front pages of regional newspapers, because he is at the top of lists of parties vying for seats in regional governments. During the presidential election, live televised debates will add to Slutsky’s visibility in public, the same speaker predicts.

A source familiar with the Kremlin’s political strategy bloc describes the rationale for Slutsky’s candidacy: “He fits the project: a serious guy in a suit, with an office. Nobody would call him a mere spoiler of elections, but Slutsky’s personal rating is low, and as a politician he’s kind of…” he decides. The speaker does not complete the sentence, and leaves it with a shrug.

The candidacy of the New People’s Party is much less clear at the moment. The Kremlin wants the party’s leader, businessman Alexei Nechayev, to run:

It is the same reasoning as in Slutsky’s case. Here is a serious man in a suit. He has a certain charisma and physique. But he is also vague and charismatic, which ensures that his rating will not threaten Putin’s KPIs.

explains a Kremlin insider who spoke to Medusa.

Nechayev himself, however, does not seem interested in the candidacy: “They won’t let him get a high percentage,” explains a knowledgeable source, “but jumping after the crumbs and appearing ‘Alexei with 2%’ doesn’t mean that.” motivate him.”

Nechaev wants the New People’s Party to take at least third place in the 2026 State Duma elections. He believes that if he gets a bad result in the presidential elections, it will damage this goal, ”explains a source close to the president’s administration.

Instead, Nechayev proposed the candidacy of the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Vladislav Davankov, who is currently running for mayor of Moscow. But that’s not good enough for the Kremlin, whose campaign strategists are still trying to get Nechayev to run, even though Davankov might be an ideal candidate for the establishment if allowed to enter the race. “The problem is his age,” says one person familiar with the campaign.

Davankov is 39 years old, he loves publicity and is a decent speaker. He won’t get a big percentage of course, though A young, energetic candidate might make voters think about the president’s age.

As for Putin, the speaker is sure, “This will not be a pleasant contradiction.”

And it’s less about the immediate election results than about the possibility of what might happen in two or three years, when people start to think that Putin might be a great guy, but isn’t it time for someone younger to make a move? Younger candidates may spur such ideas.

according to vote Conducted by the research company Russian Field in May 2023, “Age” is the third most popular answer among respondents when asked what they don’t like about the current president. The other two most frequent responses were that Putin is “too lenient” (no further details provided) and that he pays no attention to the country’s internal problems.

Many regional officials and members of the United Russia party agree that Putin’s age has begun to bother Russians over the past few years. One member of the United Russia leadership says people ask questions, and gives some examples: “Isn’t it time to think about a successor? It’s time to think about a successor.” Isn’t it time for Putin to relax? Maybe the country needs a new look?

story before Andrey Bertsev. Translated by Anna Razumnaya.

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