As the presidential election in Russia approaches (March 15-17, 2024), discussions about the lack of alternatives are becoming increasingly trivial. The results will clearly not shock the world. In previous electoral cycles, not only the election results, but also criticism of them have lost their novelty and become uninteresting. It is not about criticism of the results themselves or their predictability, but about criticism of the Kremlin’s electoral strategies aimed at achieving those results.

A survey launched by Alexei Navalny in mid-October with 10 questions about the upcoming election collected less than 55,000 responses in a month. The number of responses and their content indicate an obviously low level of interest on the part of the opposition.

This relative indifference is attributable to the understanding that the already-narrow window of opportunity for views alternative to the policies of the current government to be expressed in the Russian presidential election has narrowed further (if not closed). Thus, the main strategy favored by a significant part of the opposition at the moment is voting for any candidate allowed on the ballot, just not Putin.

The problem is that this strategy is inherently a losing one (hopelessness is built into the very rules of the game dictated by the authorities and accepted by the opposition). And not so much because everyone already knows who will win the election, but because within the electoral field created by the Russian state, any legitimate figures and forces are systemic ersatz of the existing hegemony, surrogates of the current government – real doubles of Putin (unlike those “Putin doubles” who are constantly “exposed” by Kremlin-linked conspiracy theorists).

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