Russian Ekaterina Dountsova, a 40-year-old divorced former television journalist and mother of three, this week announced her desire to run in the March 2024 presidential election against Vladimir Putin (who is likely to run again ).

Dutsova denies any ties to the Kremlin and, as she told Reuters from Moscow, said she was scared by her decision – but determined.

“The fear is present, but it is conscious. Any sane person who took this step would be afraid, but fear must not win,” he emphasizes.

She chuckles when asked about an online Russian article calling her “Catherine III” and citing Indira Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as her heroes.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to be a candidate in the March elections, and in that case he is certain to win.

She needs to gather 300,000 signatures to be allowed to run.

Russian state media ignore her.

“No” to war in Ukraine, “no” to barbed wire between Russia and the West

Ekaterina Dutsova argues that the Kremlin should end the war in Ukraine, release all political prisoners and undertake major reform to halt the slide towards a new era of “barbed-wire division” between Russia and the West.

“Sooner or later every armed conflict ends and I hope it will end as soon as possible. People are very tired of what is happening. But the fatigue is not expressed.”

“The decision was not made by all the citizens of this country,” she explains.


Prosecutors summoned her last week to discuss her political views, including “war and peace”.

But Dutsova declined to describe to Reuters what a potential peace would look like.

Asked what she thinks of Putin, Dutsova laughs nervously.

“I don’t think about Putin,” he replies. “When someone is in Europe and the US they say that Russia and the Russians are Putin and that is not correct. I don’t support collective guilt,” he says of the war.

“The oligarchs do not support me” – Opening to the West

Dutsova says she is not a pawn being used to legitimize the election and hopes there will be a second round.

At the same time, he denies any connection with the Kremlin.

“Not the Kremlin, not the oligarchs and not big business — they don’t support me,” he says.

Asked about nationalist criticism that many supporters of liberal democracy in Russia are Western agents bent on destroying Russia, she replied: “I’m not a CIA agent.”

In fact, he comments that fortunately he has not yet been labeled a “foreign agent” by the Ministry of Justice.

“I love my country,” says Dutsova, who was born in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk and lives in the provincial town of Rzhev, Tver Oblast.

Russia, according to her, should release them political prisoners including Alexei Navalny.

Her proposals to rid the country of Putin’s authoritarian post-Soviet rule and empty patriotism and to grant powers to parliament would cause an earthquake in Russia.

As she explains, hardliners in the West and in Russia would be happy to see her country isolated.

“Every day it becomes clear that the laws will become stricter and that there will be fewer and fewer rights and freedoms. There is indeed a feeling that we have completely isolated ourselves and that we are ready to raise the barbed wire,” he concludes.