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How China & Iran will follow Putin’s sham election playbook to tighten iron-fist rule so tyrants can rule FOREVER

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TYRANTS around the world will look to “take lessons” from Vladimir Putin’s sham Russian election playbook in a desperate bid to “rule forever”, top experts have warned.

It’s feared despots in Iran, China and North Korea could follow in Vlad’s footsteps to tighten their iron-fist grips on power and undermine democracy in the West.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin cruised to an easy victory as he was re-elected with more than 87 per cent of the vote

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin cruised to an easy victory as he was re-elected with more than 87 per cent of the voteCredit: AP
It's feared other autocratic leaders such as China's Xi Jinping may follow in Vlad's footsteps and adopt similar election tactics

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It’s feared other autocratic leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping may follow in Vlad’s footsteps and adopt similar election tactics
Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei could take lessons from Vlad's playbook in a bid to crackdown on dissent

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Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei could take lessons from Vlad’s playbook in a bid to crackdown on dissentCredit: AFP

Putin, 71, cruised to an easy victory as he was re-elected with more than 87 per cent of the vote after using every tactic from his “authoritarian election playbook”.

He faced token challengers and suppressed opposition voters while shock footage appeared to show polling station officials stuffing ballot boxes with extra votes for the dictator.

The ageing ruler, now dubbed the “modern-day Stalin”, secured his near quarter-of-a-century rule over Russia until at least 2036 after tearing up the constitution limiting his presidency.

Anyone capable of challenging Putin has been locked in gulag, exiled or killed amid the harshest crackdown on opposition in Russia since Soviet times.

A long list of influential Russians have died in murky circumstances throughout Putin’s 24-year rule after opposing, criticising, or crossing the resentful despot.

The curious deaths – resulting from poisonings to shootings and falls from windows to plane crashes – may have helped pave the way for the Russian dictator to remain in power until 2036.

Now experts fear that autocratic regimes such as China, Iran and North Korea – ruled by dictators Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei and Kim Jong-un – could learn lessons from Vlad.

Security and politics expert Professor Anthony Glees warned given their shared hatred for the West, they would do anything to undermine the core idea of democracy.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, he said: “The enemies of the West would be looking and learning from Putin’s playbook and taking specific lessons.

“They may work in cahoots with each other as a coalition of evil. The idea of democracy to these people is deeply offensive. They would do everything they could to undermine it.

“They read our newspapers and watch our television to work out how they can shape their propaganda to undermine the core belief of democracy.

Putin’s sham re-election ‘will let him throw off shackles’ to spark WW3…as he’s dubbed ‘Hitler & Stalin with more evil’

“They want to make liberal democracy in the West look fake.”

Professor Glees said leaders of these rogue nations want to rule forever, just like Vlad, and progranda is key to sustaining their regime.

If Russia achieves success with its propaganda campaigns without facing consequences, it sets a concerning precedent for other government regimes worldwide.

Theresa PaytonFormer White House Information officer,

The Kremlin has cracked down on protesters and debauchery, closed down independent media and put critics on trial – in a bid to starve citizens of alternate viewpoints.

China has long been accused of manipulating mass foreign information, spending billions every year to promote its regime using false or biased information.

While North Korea and Iran are known to execute citizens who threaten their ideology.

Professor Anthony Glees said: “They know their chances of carrying on as dictators are greatly enhanced if they can subvert us with their propaganda.

“They want to weaken and disorient the West with their disinformation.”

‘CONCERNING PRECEDENT’

Theresa Payton, a former White House Information officer, said regimes around the world will be “taking note” of Putin’s re-election success – and how he achieved it.

The cybersecurity expert told The Sun: “[Putin’s] authoritarian election playbook, marked by disinformation and digital repression, carries broader implications.

“If Russia achieves success with its propaganda campaigns without facing consequences, it sets a concerning precedent for other government regimes worldwide.

“As Russian disinformation influences global political discourse, other authoritarian regimes may adopt similar tactics, shaping political debates worldwide.

“Nations like North Korea, Iran, and China are likely to take note and could leverage similar tactics to manipulate public opinion and control narratives.”

Putin’s most formidable opponent Alexei Navalny, 47, died just last month in the strict-regime Polar Wolf jail in the Russian Arctic while serving a 19-year sentence on trumped-up “extremism” charges.

It was alleged his body was found covered in bruises as Western leaders and members of Navalny’s camp claimed he was “murdered” on the direct orders of Putin – an accusation the Kremlin rejects.

Russia and post-Soviet politics experts believe Navalny’s death may have stemmed from Putin wanting to assert his dominance in national politics.

And that the murders of Putin’s opponents have helped to solidify the president’s ruthless image in Russians’ minds.

Nations like North Korea, Iran, and China are likely to take note and could leverage similar tactics to manipulate public opinion and control narratives

Theresa PaytonFormer White House Information Officer

Putin is portrayed as the Kremlin’s top choice for a leader who can march the country forward and do what is necessary to stand up to the “meddling” West.

Seventy-five per cent of Russians were last month said to be ready to vote for the tyrant, according to a state pollster and reported by Reuters.

But behind this well-stitched narrative is a controlling regime that thrives on wiping out its opposition through crackdowns and digital repression.

Payton, the author of Manipulated: Inside the Cyberwar to Hijack Elections and Distort the Truth, told The Sun: “Putin is favoured as the leader, portrayed as the sole figure capable of steering Russia to victory against Western adversaries.

“However, behind this narrative lies a regime committed to controlling online discourse through internet censorship, including shutdowns, surveillance measures, and blocking foreign-owned social media platforms and specific URLs.

“The threat of organised protests poses a challenge to the regime’s stability. This may have led to preemptive website blocks and other internet crackdowns.”

Alexei Navalny, Kremlin's top critic, died in Polar Wolf jail in the Russian Arctic on February 16

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Alexei Navalny, Kremlin’s top critic, died in Polar Wolf jail in the Russian Arctic on February 16Credit: AP
Navalny's parents at the funeral service for their son

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Navalny’s parents at the funeral service for their son
People with flowers marching to Borisov cemetery during the funeral of Navalny

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People with flowers marching to Borisov cemetery during the funeral of Navalny
Russia's riot police arresting protesters at Navalny's funeral

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Russia’s riot police arresting protesters at Navalny’s funeral

Regimes like Iran have already adopted tactics similar to that of the Kremlin in a bid to tackle dissent and unrest.

Ever since Tehran’s morality police killed Mahsa Amini, the government has faced severe backlash not just in Iran but worldwide with citizens demanding change.

Despite a record-low turnout of just 41 per cent in this year’s elections, hardliners in the country are expected to maintain power, including the current President Ebrahim Raisi.

The theocratic regime, just like Putin’s, is said to have severely manipulated the election results to appear as a show of democracy.

Hossein Abedeni, Deputy Director of the National Committee of Resistance of Iran, said Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been repressing his opposition to continue his leadership.

He told The Sun: “The only way [for Ali Khamenei] to maintain power is through repression and terrorism.

“As a result, he embarked on a campaign to consolidate his system by eliminating the opposition.

“Khamenei understands that particularly after the September 2022 uprising, a lacklustre election will expose the widespread rejection of the entire regime.

“Hence, Khamenei is striving to manipulate the elections show in any way possible to orchestrate the scenario in a manner that can yield legitimacy for the regime.”

The enemies of the West would be looking and learning from Putin’s playbook while taking specific lessons

Professor Anthony GleesThe University of Buckingham

China has a well-oiled propaganda machine but Xi’s regime could be emboldened by Vlad’s landslide victory and look to follow suit.

Xi has grand plans to establish China on the world stage as a “pioneering global influence” by the year 2050.

And to achieve that, the Beijing-based leader is most likely to maintain his tyrannical rule using the best tactics from Putin’s playbook.

The pair have maintained close ties despite Vlad’s invasion of Ukraine with Xi attempting to be the peacemaker between the warring sides.

Just like Russia, China actively promotes digital authoritarianism to repress freedom of expression – and has acquired a stake in foreign public media through which it influences the global stage.

Elections in China only occur under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with all candidates being pre-approved.

The President is then elected by the National People’s Congress(NPC), but just like Putin Xi will remain in power for life.

In 2018, China removed the two-term limit on the presidency before Xi was due to step down in 2023.

The move elevated his status as China’s supreme leader to the level of the country’s founder Chairman Mao.

Despite Putin’s route to the top of the polls being never in doubt, the despot’s friends abroad piled on the congratulations.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi was among the first to toast Vlad – the longest-serving Russian dictator followed by China and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

Beijing’s foreign ministry hailed the “continuous development of China-Russia relations in the new era”.

Close Putin ally Kim Jong-un – who has provided Putin with vast supplies of munitions for the war in Ukraine – sent “congratulations” to Putin via his embassy.

Earlier, Putin was congratulated by both the authoritarian ruler of  Nicaragua Daniel Ortega and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, Nicolás Maduro and Luis Arce, joined the small repressive group hailing Putin’s overwhelming victory.

So did former Soviet states – with close ongoing relationships with Moscow – Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Behind Russia, Iran and China’s electoral facade

AUTOCRATIC regimes of Russia, China and Iran been long criticised for manipulating elections and unfair ruling.

RUSSIA – On the federal level, Russia elects a president as head of state and a parliament.

The president is elected for, at most, two consecutive six-year terms by the people.

However, tyrant Putin has been in power for the last 24 years – and has won every election while running as an independent candidate.

He is accused of silencing all his political rivals, either by digging up false charges and jailing them, or by wiping them out making them look like accidents.

Independent media inside Russia has long been intimidated and suppressed, and the elections have been claimed as fraudulent.

CHINA – Elections in China only occur under the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with all candidates being pre-approved.

The President is then elected by the National People’s Congress(NPC), but just like Putin Xi will remain in power for life.

In 2018, China removed the two-term limit on the presidency before Xi was due to step down in 2023.

The move elevated Xi’s status as China’s supreme leader to the level of the country’s founder Chairman Mao.

Xi, who wants to see China become the next global hegemon, has been criticised for pushing out propaganda against the West.

The Chinese state has been accused of politically capturing small nations with its infamous debt-trap policy in a bid to grow its influence against the West.

IRAN – On a national level, Iran elects a Prime Minister as the head of the state, a legislature known as Majli, and an “Assembly of Experts”.

This assembly in turn elects the Supreme Leader of the country, who then rules for life.

The current Supreme Leader of the theocratic regime is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has been in charge for the past 34 years.

Known for advocating extreme religious ideologies, Iran has been criticized for the brutal executions of its people and for promoting global Islamic terrorism.

Picture showing a man named Bilal just moments before his execution by the barbaric Iranian regime

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Picture showing a man named Bilal just moments before his execution by the barbaric Iranian regime
Under vile laws, prisoners are subject to retaliation punishments such as having their hands amputated

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Under vile laws, prisoners are subject to retaliation punishments such as having their hands amputated
Iran has seen a surge in public executions in recent years

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Iran has seen a surge in public executions in recent years
Violence swept over Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini

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Violence swept over Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini
Mahsa Amini, 22, was beaten to death under Iran's barbaric Hijab law

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Mahsa Amini, 22, was beaten to death under Iran’s barbaric Hijab law
A woman with open hair protesting against Iran's theocratic regime following Mahsa Amini's death

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A woman with open hair protesting against Iran’s theocratic regime following Mahsa Amini’s death
Two teenagers in North Korea were sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in the gulag for watching banned South Korean TV

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Two teenagers in North Korea were sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in the gulag for watching banned South Korean TV
The boys were publicly condemned before being taken away

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The boys were publicly condemned before being taken away

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