putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he will run for a fourth term in next March's election.

Might as well call it now: congratulations to Putin on his historic win.

According to CBS, Putin already has three declared opponents with a fourth on the way. But there is little mystery to how this plays out.

Putin has an 80 percent approval rating, and the Kremlin controls most of the nation's media. People who challenge Putin's authority are regularly jailed on trumped-up charges and then forbidden from running in any sort of election. Reformers find it nearly impossible to get a toehold in power, and their supporters are marginalized because of it.

Plus, Russian elections are not known for their transparency. In fact, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's criticism of Russia for not holding truly free and fair elections in 2012 is allegedly part of the nation's motivation for meddling in the U.S.'s 2016 election as retaliation.

Putin was first elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. Russia's constitution forbade him from running for a third consecutive term in 2008, so he got himself appointed as prime minister and spent four years basically calling all the shots. Then, as soon as he could run again in 2012, he did so, winning easily.

Somewhere in there, the nation changed its constitution so that presidents now serve six-year terms. What a lucky break for Putin.

So there is no suspense about what happens next. Putin wins in March and, assuming he serves the full six-year term, will have at the end been Russia's president for 20 of the previous 24 years.

Prepare yourselves now for Donald Trump's congratulatory tweets.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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