Feb 8, 2018

Meet the people challenging Putin in Russia's 2018 election

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

Russia's 2018 presidential elections are rapidly approaching and Vladimir Putin has some, at least nominal, competition. The election committee has registered eight total candidates for the the March 18 vote.

Why it matters, from Axios' Steve LeVine: This election won't be competitive, but it could be Putin's last and he needs a big finish to burnish his legacy as a modern-day czar. Putin depends on the support of the Russian people and is trying to put the uprising in 2012 behind him. In his current term, Putin has relied on the fumes of nationalism and xenophobia to buttress his popular support and put the relatively minor uprising in 2012 behind him. Expect him to pivot, possibly toward serious domestic challenges, ahead of his next, and possibly final, 6-year term.

The challengers


  • The 57-year-old CEO of a formerly state-run produce farm is the Communist Party's pick for president. Grudinin has been publicly critical of Russia's political and economic structure, without openly criticizing Putin. His nomination has been seen as an attempt from the Communists to appeal to younger voters and lighten the harsh reputation of the party.


  • Sobchak, 36, is a former reality TV star-turned news anchor with millions of social media followers. In an interview with NPR, she said that she knows she doesn't have a good chance at beating Putin and called the elections "kind of fake."


  • Meet the man who said he won't believe claims that Russia meddled in the US election unless the US helps him win this election, according to RT. 71-year-old Vladimir Zhirinovsky is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. He ran five times before but never received more than 10% of the vote.


  • The 65-year-old liberal is running as a member of one of Russia's oldest parties, Yabloko. He's expressed his goal of fixing economic problems that have grown since the annexation of Crimea and calling for political freedoms, however critics say Yavlinsky lacks charisma.


  • The 57-year-old businessman and first-time candidate has served as Putin's Business Ombudsman since 2012. Titov is the candidate for the Party of Growth. His platform focuses on creating a more favorable business environment.


  • Baburin is a legal expert who is known for opposing the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since departing Russian politics in 2007, he has served as a rector for Moscow University and was nominated to run for president by a fringe nationalist party.


  • A self-described "Leninist-Stalinist," the 39-year-old wants to revive the USSR, per the BBC. Suraikin represents the Communist for Russia party. He studied engineering and unsuccessfully ran for governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region.

Notable: Opposition leader and Putin critic Alexei Navalny, has been barred from running for president because of a criminal conviction that he and many of his supporters claim is politically motivated.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."