Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will likely center his presidential campaign on Russia’s alleged domestic stability and increased criticism of the West instead of focusing on the war, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest report.
Putin and other Russian government officials have already signaled their intention to intensify censorship efforts by claiming that some Russian citizens who left Russia and others still in Russia have begun efforts to discredit the upcoming Russian presidential elections and that Russia will do “everything necessary” to prevent election meddling.
Russian authorities have also attempted to consolidate control over the Russian information space and have intensified measures encouraging self-censorship.
The ISW indicated that the war in Ukraine has created "new social tensions and exacerbated existing ones within Russia," which remain highly visible in the Russian information space despite ongoing Kremlin censorship efforts.
Russian military bloggers suggested that Russian political officials financing Telegram channels ordered bloggers to cease debates and criticisms about the Russian military prior to the Russian presidential elections. "The Kremlin has likely attempted to shore up popular support for Putin throughout Russia by establishing a network of “proxies” to campaign on Putin’s behalf," the ISW said.