Russian Election Betting: Vladimir Putin Odds Wobble After Navalny Scandal

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Joe Short
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Russian Election Betting: Vladimir Putin Odds Wobble After Navalny Scandal

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Betting sites have adjusted their odds on Vladimir Putin winning the upcoming Russian presidential election in the wake of Alexei Navalny’s death – but they still think he will surge to victory.

Russia is holding its presidential election between March 15-17 and is supposedly polling at around 62%.

Mr Putin first took over the presidency in 2012, having previously ruled Russia as prime minister. It is notoriously difficult to get on the ballot and Mr Putin is expected to win by a landslide.

In doing so, the president will extend his term by six years and claim he has a mandate to continue the offensive in Ukraine that has so-far caused the death of 315,000 Russian personnel.

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The election has been pulled into sharp focus since Mr Navalny’s death in a penal colony on February 16. 

Navalny was said to have been “taken ill” after a walk, yet the previous day looked healthy when appearing in court.

Speculation of Mr Navalny’s death has triggered protests across Europe and in Russia, where the police have cracked down hard on public dissent.

And while the odds have wobbled in the last few days, there isn’t a significant enough change to suggest anything but a Putin victory in March.

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According to politics betting sites, Mr Putin’s odds of winning the Russian election fell from 1/100 (99%) to 1/10 (90%) in the wake of Mr Navalny’s death. 

This was most likely from a handful of punters seeking to bet against the president, in the possibility that the country would rebel in the aftermath.

That was always going to be a very, very slim possibility.

Mr Putin is in a good place right now. The war in Ukraine is very slowly inching towards Russia’s favour, despite the cost of hundreds of thousands of soldiers recruited from across the country. 

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The West’s economic measures have impacted Russia’s economy but not so much as to stop the war.

Meanwhile, political turmoil in the US regarding the possible return of Donald Trump into the White House means Republicans are refusing to sign off on a military package to help Ukraine defend itself.

No wonder Mr Putin’s odds on betting apps are still safely short as we get to within a fortnight of the election.

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What A Presidential Win Means For Putin

However, winning an internationally-disputed election in Russia is not Mr Putin’s end game. 

The vote will likely drive patriotism in the country and may fuel extra energy for the war in Ukraine. Yet Mr Putin is still in a bind.

Russia cannot expect a full return to the international community while he is in power. 

Even Donald Trump in the White House isn’t enough to prevent the International Criminal Court from rescinding their arrest warrant on the Russian president.

All the election win will do is bolster support back home. There’s little chance it will improve relations with the West or change how Russia operates with China and India.

And so, the big question for now isn’t Mr Putin’s future, but that of Ukraine.

Russian forces have made small advances in recent months, but another Ukrainian counter-offensive is being mooted for the summer. 

These sorts of wars can eventually end in an attritional agreement, but it’s hard to see how the West stomachs Russia taking Ukrainian land for its own.

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Throw into the mix the war in the Near East and the geo-political pressures on that conflict, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine takes on another dimension. 

Alliances and deals can be forged out of multiple conflicts, but Russia is yet to fully wage into the Israel-Gaza issue.

Instead, Mr Putin’s focus is on looking strong at home, winning the upcoming election, and taking his advance in Ukraine from there.

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