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‘Vladimir Putin ally predicts Russian presidential challenger may be poisoned’ – Times of India

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A close associate of Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Solovyov, has forewarned that any opposition leader daring to challenge Putin in the upcoming March presidential elections should brace for dire consequences, such as poisoning or imprisonment. This stark prediction was aimed at Boris Nadezhdin, a former State Duma member and a vocal critic of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, who recently declared his intention to contest against Putin. Nadezhdin‘s announcement followed a successful campaign to amass the requisite 100,000 voter signatures to secure a spot on the ballot.
As per a Newsweek report, Solovyov, a prominent figure in Russian state media known for disseminating Kremlin narratives, expressed profound disappointment in Nadezhdin, whom he referred to affectionately as “Borya,” for his audacious move to challenge Putin. He dismissed Nadezhdin’s presidential aspirations as futile, saying, “It’s funny to suppose that in our country, Borya thinks he could suddenly be elected president. It’s clear that there are zero chances.”
The television host then escalated his rhetoric, cautioning Nadezhdin of the grim fate that awaited him, “You’ll be thrown into prison and that’ll be the end of it! The government will raise your poor children! Are you an idiot?…There was a Berlin patient, and now there will be another one from Dolgoprudny [Nadezhdin’s hometown].”
Solovyov’s reference to the “Berlin patient” alludes to Alexei Navalny, another Russian opposition figure who survived a poisoning incident in 2020, widely believed to be orchestrated by the Kremlin. Navalny received medical treatment in Berlin following the attack.
Despite these ominous warnings, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, distanced the Kremlin from Solovyov’s remarks, saying that such individuals often appear on TV talk shows as experts, but their views do not necessarily mirror the official stance and may not always be deemed correct.
Solovyov further insinuated that Nadezhdin was being manipulated by “Western progressives” into becoming a “sacrificial victim,” predicting that Nadezhdin would inevitably share the same fate as Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza, another Putin critic who was poisoned twice. He lamented, “No one will care—he’s in prison, so be it. Is Borya doomed to spend his older years in prison? And for free!”
He concluded by criticizing Nadezhdin’s campaign promises, particularly his pledge to initiate a ceasefire with Ukraine and commence negotiations if elected, labeling these intentions as “inherently disgusting and totally sad.”
Nadezhdin — whose name shares a root with the Russian word for “hope” — described the conflict in Ukraine as “catastrophic” and said he wanted to “free political prisoners” in Russia. Nadezhdin’s campaign manifesto condemns Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine as a “fatal mistake” and argues that victory in the conflict is unlikely without causing substantial economic damage and a devastating impact on Russia’s population.
Despite these challenges and the skepticism surrounding the integrity of Russia’s electoral process, Putin is widely expected to secure re-election in March, with polling data and international observers suggesting that the electoral system and polls within the country are manipulated to favor the incumbent.
(With inputs from agencies)

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