Russia is holding a presidential election this weekend and it’s hardly a spoiler to prematurely declare Vladimir Putin the winner.

Anyone even remotely considered a challenger has already been sidelined, such as anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin, who was barred from running in February.

And Putin’s one true threat, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, died in prison last month. Not that he had been permitted to run anyway.

With so little intrigue as to the outcome, Russia expert Matthew Sussex looks at two bigger questions today: is there any semblance of an opposition left following Navalny’s death? And what kind of leader will Putin be in his fifth full term as president?

Law professor William Partlett, who is publishing a new book on Russian politics, writes that Putin may use his expected election victory as a show of strength, particularly coming after some battlefield successes in Ukraine.

But this would only mask bigger problems in Russia. Putin, he writes, is leading an increasingly weak and dysfunctional country, with schools, a health care system, roads and other infrastructure that are only going to continue to deteriorate.

Putin’s centralised power will make Russia more unpredictable, too. A frightening prospect as we look ahead to six more years under the strongman’s rule.

Justin Bergman

International Affairs Editor

Russia is about to hold another presidential election. It needn’t bother

Matthew Sussex, Australian National University

Vladimir Putin faces token opposition in the polls this weekend after his regime has viciously cracked down on opposition figures. He’s likely to be even more repressive in his next term.

What can we expect from six more years of Vladimir Putin? An increasingly weak and dysfunctional Russia

William Partlett, The University of Melbourne

A centralised system of government has allowed Putin to project power, but the country’s health care, schools, infrastructure and general quality of life have sharply deteriorated.

The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is exposing older Australians to the risk of financial abuse

Julia Cook, University of Newcastle; Peta S. Cook, University of Tasmania

Helping adult children buy homes is risky, especially because what begins as a loan can turn into an unintended gift.

Christchurch attacks 5 years on: terrorist’s online history gives clues to preventing future atrocities

Chris Wilson, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau; Ethan Renner, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau; Jack Smylie, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau; Michal Dziwulski, University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau

New research mapping the online and real-world activity of the Christchurch attacker provides insights into his radicalisation and the ways others contemplating terrorist violence might act.

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Masculinity expert Michael Flood on boys and men behaving badly

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

We're joined by Michael Flood, professor at the Queensland University of Technology to discuss the harassment against women in boys only schools and what leads to some men and boys to mistreat women.

Tennis anyone? Bad news for skiers as snow season could shrink by 78% this century

Adrian McCallum, University of the Sunshine Coast

The two alpine regions projected to suffer the greatest loss of snow cover in the world are in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Where’s Kate? Speculation about the ‘missing’ princess is proof the Palace’s media playbook needs a re-write

Naomi Smith, University of the Sunshine Coast; Amy Clarke, University of the Sunshine Coast

Rumours are out of control following the Kate Middleton photo controversy. It seems the royal family’s PR train is running off its rails.

Vinegar and baking soda: a cleaning hack or just a bunch of fizz?

Nathan Kilah, University of Tasmania

A mix of vinegar and baking soda is a popular DIY cleaner – but it’s really inefficient. A chemist explains why you should reconsider using this fizzy mixture.

Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Chérizier: the gangster behind the violence in Haiti who may have political aspirations of his own

Amalendu Misra, Lancaster University

Haiti is descending into anarchy, causing the gang leader behind the violence to emerge as the country’s most powerful leader.

What are the most common symptoms of menopause? And which can hormone therapy treat?

Susan Davis, Monash University

Here’s what the evidence says.

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