The election authorities were still predicting that none of the candidates would get an absolute majority of the votes on October 5, the Kremlin-controlled website Strana.ru reported on August 15–and that it would therefore take a second round to produce a final victor. If Kadyrov wins decisively on the first round, it will now be a surprise. This is another indication that the Putin administration is keeping alive the option of dumping him, even if it still has not committed itself to a definite choice.
Reinforcing that interpretation of the Kremlin’s intentions are sources used by the well connected journalist Sanobar Shermatova of Moskovskie novosti. She wrote on August 19 that “in confidential conversations with potential candidates, administration officials have given it to be understood that the federal center’s support will be provided to whichever competitor succeeds in recruiting the largest number of influential people.”