Totalitarian countries always act like there is broad support for their guy, Russia is no different

NY Times:

Blocked From Ballot, Putin Rival Can’t Even Boycott Vote

Aleksei A. Navalny, an anticorruption activist, was barred from running for president and was warned not to organize a boycott of the election. It raises the question of what the Kremlin has to fear.
Putin probably fears a small turnout would be seen as a vote against him which would allow critics to question his legitimacy.   He apparently does not oppose elections as long as they are seen as a show of support for his rule.

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