Putin's "gladiators" or the art of "proxy campaigning"

These days, political strategists across the world must be scratching their heads in complete bewilderment: Vladimir Putin has invented a new kind of political warfare: the “proxy debates”.


Let me explain. Even though the presidential elections are around the corner, the Russian prime minister – and, incidentally, a top contender for his former job as a president -  is too busy managing the country to participate in the presidential campaign’s TV debates. 


Not that he is afraid to confront his rivals, he simply does not have time. So he designated - and the Central Election Commission duly registered - a list 499 “campaign representatives” .





The list includes prominent public figures, artists, musicians, scientists, athletes, movie stars and famous theatre actors – film director Nikita Mikhalkov, violinist and conductor Yuri Bashmet, pianist Denis Matsuyev, football player Andrei Arshavin, to name but a few.


Their task  - to campaign across the country on behalf of candidate Putin.


Except for the liberal-democrat Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the other presidential candidates refused to participate in “proxy debates”.


What strategy lies behind the “campaign representatives” concept?  What impact will it have on Putin’s campaign? Alexei Mukhin, the Head of the Center for political information, a Moscow-based think tank, shares his thoughts:


Listen here:


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