Vladimir Putin crisis as Russians opposing rule urged to spray graffiti


Russian president Vladimir Putin is facing fresh protests after he announced presidential elections set for March 17, 2024.

While Putin still appears to have an iron grip on Russia, recent polls show support for his war in Ukraine is falling sharply and opposition groups have taken the opportunity to stir up unrest.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation, led by top Kremlin critic and jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has put up billboards around Moscow with QR codes leading to their campaign website.

In addition, the group has urged ordinary Russians to use graffiti to protest Vladimir Putin‘s rule. It suggests spray painting the word “Russia” in a particular font that signifies opposition to the Kremlin.

In a post online featuring the graffiti in various Russian cities, it said: “Draw graffiti! Let #RussiaWithoutPutin be everywhere. Join the campaign.”

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The news comes as Russian authorities attempted to stamp out protests against the war carried out by the wives of mobilised soldiers. While the protests were limited, they signalled a growing opposition to Putin’s war in Ukraine.

In October, for the first time since the war began, the majority of Russians – 74 percent – said they would be happy if Putin signed a peace deal with Ukraine immediately, according to a poll conducted in Russia cited by The Economist.

It also found that Russians were firmly against another mobilisation – despite this Putin recently said the military would add 170,000 troops to the armed forces.

Another opinion poll by the independent pollster Chronicle showed that Russian support for Putin’s war in Ukraine has halved since early 2023 – with elections coming up in 2024, this could spell trouble for the dictator.

Russia‘s elections are neither free nor fair, but they mark an opportunity for Putin to shore up support and project his political power.

Earlier this month, the Institute for the Study of War claimed that changing perceptions about the war in Ukraine could be a real concern for the Kremlin.

The Washington-based think-tank said: “The Kremlin is likely concerned about how changing Russian perceptions of the Russian war in Ukraine will affect the outcome of the March 2024 Russian presidential election and is implementing measures to ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actual electoral support does not rest on Russian battlefield successes.”

Support for Putin’s war appears to be waning, although it’s unclear how that will translate into action in a state where protest is severely restricted.

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