Putin election candidates avoid mentioning Ukraine as war support plummets

Support for Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is faltering in Russia

Support for Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is faltering in Russia – Mikhail Metzel/Pool via AP

Vladimir Putin’s candidates for local elections in Russia are avoiding talking about the war in Ukraine amid fears that it could lose them votes, according to opposition media.

United Russia party sources in the Urals region told Verstka website they had shredded pro-war campaign leaflets.

“There is not a single person here who supports the war. There are no Z-machines here,” the source in Putin’s party said. “If you support the war, you will not be elected.”

Verstka reported that high-profile candidates in the elections, being held on Sept 10, still had to support the conflict publicly, but more low-profile hopefuls were shying away from the subject.

“The reaction is too unpredictable,” said Stanislav Andreychuk, the co-chairman of Golos, a Russian vote-monitoring NGO.

He described how Sergei Sokol, a United Russia MP who has served in a VIP battalion in occupied Ukraine, has toned down his comments on the war and has stopped wearing his camouflage military jacket since he was nominated to contest the governorship of the Khakassia region in Siberia.

Verstka’s report is an insight into how support for Putin’s war in Ukraine is faltering in Russia, 17 months after the president ordered his full-scale invasion.

Western analysts have said that more than 200,000 Russians have been killed or injured in the war. This week, another Russian opposition website reported that overworked doctors in regional hospitals were resigning because of the stress of having to treat so many mentally and physically broken soldiers.

“There are almost no doctors left, and now the last ones are leaving because of unrealistic requirements on them,” a source in the Kemerovo region of Siberia told the New Tablet.

Citizens are also feeling the economic pain. This month, the Russian Central Bank raised interest rates for the first time in a year, warning of inflation linked to a sharp drop in Russia’s labour force.

Ozon, a Russian online retailer, has said it will follow car manufacturer AvtoVAZ and hire convicts to plug shortages. The 500 convicts will pack boxes in its warehouses but, Ozon insisted, will not courier products to customers.

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