Letter From the Editors

No one doubts that Vladimir Putin will win the upcoming presidential election. But the matter of the final slate of candidates is still up in the air. The biggest question mark is suspended over the head of antiwar presidential hopeful Boris Nadezhdin, who this week submitted to Russia’s Central Electoral Commission the signatures he needs to enter the race. In an interview with Meduza correspondents, Nadezhdin paints himself as a “Russian patriot” who does not “adhere to any one ideology or political camp” and wants to be the “president of all Russians,” whom he describes as “a diverse group of people.” Thus, he ascribes his strong support to everyone from oppositionists to Stalinists.

Political commentators have a different understanding of Nadezhdin’s meteoric rise. For Leonid Gozman, his popularity is more about voters’ desire to “show agency” than it is about Nadezhdin the individual. As Gozman says, voters want to “hear a ‘no’ to the war and to Putin. It is entirely irrelevant which politician says it and whether they do so brazenly or with extreme caution.” Meanwhile, Ivan Rodin warns that Nadezhdin must be careful not to commit an “unforced” error by “swimming beyond the buoys.” If he gets too carried away with his grand “presidential plans,” Rodin cautions, he risks being booted from the competition.

For now, though, the CEC controls Nadezhdin’s fate. Its decision to accept or reject the signatures he collected will signal whether the presidential race will be more of the same, or something more than usual.

But Russia isn’t the only country electing a president this year – the US is preparing for an election battle in the fall. Even though the primary season is far from over, Donald Trump appears to have already clinched the GOP nomination. As Danila Moiseyev explains in NG, Trump now has to work through a long list of potential vice-presidential candidates, taking race, gender, religion and other characteristics into consideration. But Moiseyev wonders if Trump even cares who his running mate is: Trump is “so self-confident and sure of his victory” that the choice doesn’t even seem to matter to him. This, says Moiseyev, is an unconventional way for a vice-president to be selected in the US.

Convention is the name of the game, though, for the Union State, whose Supreme State Council met this week in St. Petersburg. Lukashenko and Putin discussed numerous areas of cooperation, but what stood out most was how Lukashenko echoed Putin’s words on the Ukraine war. Referring to the Siege of Leningrad, Lukashenko said, “I agree with the Russian president, who says, ‘We would have lost our civilization and would not be living on this land now if we hadn’t fought for every scrap of it.’ ”

By “every scrap,” Lukashenko was, of course, referring to Ukraine, where rumors are swirling about the fate of Ukrainian Armed Forces commander in chief Valery Zaluzhny. As Pavel Dulman writes in Rossiiskaya gazeta, “The long-awaited dismissal of UAF commander in chief Zaluzhny did not take place, again.” But while Zelensky and Zaluzhny are duking it out for the upper hand, the possibility of the latter’s resignation is sowing instability and even panic in the media space. On the other hand, former UAF General Staff spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov says in an interview with Republic: “I do not believe that the name of a [new] commander in chief would be of primary importance for military service personnel directly involved in combat operations.*** This is not about personalities, but about how efficiently and effectively the system functions at the front.”

Clearly, as is so often the case, politics is failing to safeguard the well-being of people and nations alike. If only politicians could adhere to their professed beliefs to the extent Aleksei Navalny does. As his lawyer describes him in an interview with Republic, “He has his own system of convictions.*** If you want to stay mentally strong, it is extremely important not to go against your conscience.”