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Fixed Russian election still has stakes for Putin

President Putin gives a speech while campaigning for re-election
President Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is all but guaranteed to win Russia's presidential election on Sunday. Voter turnout, on the other hand, is less certain. The Kremlin has set a target of 70% to secure the appearance of Putin's legitimacy, but, according to recent polling by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, no more than 67% of voters plan to show up. Should too few voters turn out, that might hand Putin margin of victory high enough to look illegitimate.

Why it matters: Putin isn't just looking ahead to his next term — he's looking at his own political future. He will need a resounding and legitimate-looking win to jump-start the term, as well as to plan for what happens beyond 2024 — when, for now at least, he is again barred from remaining president.