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[Published: Tuesday November 14 2023]

 Putin set to ditch party and run as independent 

MOSCOW, 14 Nov. - (ANA) - Vladimir Putin is apparently planning to ditch the political party he leads and run as an independent candidate in the Russian presidential election to boost his wartime leader credentials.
The 71-year-old president will part ways with the United Russia political party for a “conservative” campaign based on “pride, confidence and the future”, according to Kommersant.
“The formation of an initiative group suggests that he will most likely run in the elections as a self-nominated candidate,” the newspaper reported, quoting sources in the presidential administration.
Putin stood as an independent candidate in the 2018 presidential election but had been considering standing for his United Russia party in March next year, as he did in 2012.
Analysts say he is desperate to be seen as one of the all-time great Russian leaders and wants his invasion of Ukraine to be his crowning achievement.
But when candidates from United Russia campaigned on a war platform in September, they did not get a warm response from voters.
Dr Stephen Hall, an associate professor of Russian politics at Bath University, said United Russia has become increasingly unpopular, with that being another factor influencing Putin. “A difficult election should not be made harder with the United Russia millstone,” he added.
Putin has been president since 2000, except for the period between 2008 and 2012 when he served as prime minister to meet constitutional requirements.
He has cast his invasion of Ukraine in February last year as a fight for the survival of Russia.
Despite concerns about the popularity of the war and Russia’s shrinking economy, the Kremlin appears confident that a new electronic voting system can increase Putin’s 77 per cent vote share of 2018. It has said electronic voting boosts turnout, but analysts have said it can also manipulate votes.
On Monday two Russian state media agencies, Ria Novosti and Tass, reported that Putin’s troops had retreated from their positions on the Dnipro River.
Yet within minutes, the reports of a withdrawal were deleted by Ria without explanation and Tass backtracked, saying it had released the information in error.
The Russian defence ministry is known to feed details of troop movements to the agencies, and has previously used them to describe retreats as a shift to a more advantageous position.
The incident suggests a breakdown in communication between the military, the Kremlin and state media over how to report Ukraine’s improving position on the left bank of the Dnipro.
The Kremlin declined to comment on whether Ukrainian forces had reinforced their position on the Russian-occupied side of the river.
Ukraine has also offered little insight to its operations in the area, which have been steadily gaining pace since mid-October. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, last week said his forces had made “good steps near the Kherson region”.    - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/14 November 2023 — - -

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