A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin claims the unified coalition around the leader makes democratic elections unnecessary and irrelevant.
Press secretary Dmitry Peskov remarked to Russian media that democratic elections have become a “costly bureaucracy” that serves no purpose due to the supposed widespread support for Putin.
“Elections are what a democracy demands and Putin himself decided to hold them, but theoretically, they don’t even have to be held,” Peskov told state media outlet RBK.
He added, “Because it’s clear that Putin will be elected. That’s completely my personal opinion.”
Peskov told RBK he was seeking to clarify his statement to The New York Times earlier this week that he claims was misquoted.
“Our presidential election is not really democracy, it is costly bureaucracy,” Peskov told the New York Times in an article published Aug. 6. “Mr. Putin will be re-elected next year with more than 90 percent of the vote.”
The press secretary’s comments on Russian democracy follow the conviction of political opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was found guilty of extremism by a Russian court on Friday.
Navalny, already serving a nine-year sentence on separate political charges, was sentenced to an additional 19 years.
“I understand perfectly that, as many political prisoners, I’m serving a life sentence, which is measured by the length of my life or the length of life of this regime,” Navalny told his supporters via social media.
Navalny has long been Putin’s most outspoken critic, leading anti-corruption watchdog organizations and protesting Kremlin policy.
In 2020, he sought medical attention in Germany after being poisoned with a nerve agent. He was arrested after returning to Moscow in January 2021.