Anti-war former journalist enters race against Putin in Russia presidential election

Anti-war former journalist enters race against Putin in Russia presidential election

An anti-war journalist has applied to run against Vladimir Putin in the Russian presidential election in March next year.

Former TV journalist, Yekaterina Duntsova, 40, has submitted her documents to the Central Election Commission in Moscow to begin the formal process of entering the running.

The vote is expected to be a heavily staged-managed exercise that is all but certain to hand a landslide victory to Russia’s autocratic leader.

With dissent largely criminalised and most of Putin’s main opponents in jail or exile, Russia has no real opposition candidates of note who would be capable of challenging the incumbent president.

Russia’s election authorities also set a high bar even for candidates to enter the running – Ms Duntsova is required to submit 300,000 signatures from at least 40 Russian states supporting her candidacy by 31 January.

On being asked whether Russian authorities will allow her candidature against Putin, Ms Duntsova said: “Why are we talking about permission if this is my right according to the law and I have that possibility and have the necessary qualities to put myself forward?

“We are just moving according to the formula prescribed by federal law, and for that we don’t need anyone’s permission,” she said.

Now a regional legislator, Ms Duntsova is calling for peace in Ukraine and campaigning on her plank of a “humane Russia that is peaceful, friendly and ready to cooperate with everyone on the principle of respect”.

She asked Russians to support her fight against the incumbent leader and said: “I feel a sense of accomplishment. We’ve done everything that we needed to do. We’ve made this step, and I think it should inspire people who support us.

“I hope that I’ll at least be registered as a candidate. But, of course, collecting signatures is a huge job and I hope that people will be actively taking part,” she added.

Ms Duntsova is up against the 71-year-old Russian leader who has twice had the constitution amended so he could theoretically stay in power until he’s in his mid-80s.

Mr Putin has been at the centre of power in the Kremlin – either as president or prime minister – for more than two decades.

The presidential elections will take place over a three-day period between 15 and 17 March and will likely give Mr Putin a fifth term in office.

The result of March’s election is seen as a formality, with Mr Putin having total control of the country’s state and media and having criminalised mainstream public dissent.

His most high-profile critic and opponent, Alexei Navalny, is currently missing after a prison transfer, and has been banned from participating in polls.