Russian president says he will seek new six-year term in elections in March that will likely see him face only token opposition
Vladimir Putin has made the long-expected announcement that he will seek a new six-year presidential term at elections in March.
If he wins, which he almost certainly will, Putin will have spent 24 years as Russian leader by the end of his term in 2024, including four years when he was prime minister but still called the shots.
I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation, said Putin during a meeting with factory workers in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday afternoon.
Russia will continue moving forwards, and nobody will ever be able to stop this forward movement, he said, in what may be an early sign that the campaign would invoke nationalist rhetoric of a Russia facing off against a hostile west.
Putin has spent a year dodging the question about whether he would run in the elections. Even earlier on Wednesday the Russian president was coy about seeking re-election when he took to the stage at a youth volunteer forum in Moscow and was asked the question directly.
I want to ask, do you trust and support me? Putin asked the audience, which prompted a resounding chorus of Yes!
The decision will be taken and announced in the near future, said Putin, without making it clear just how soon.
Putins participation is entirely unsurprising and for a long time has been taken as a given, with the only intrigue over when exactly he would announce his campaign and what kind of issues he would run on.
Western sanctions and this weeks International Olympic Committee decision to ban the Russian team from the 2018 Winter Games are likely to boost a potential campaign message of Putin and Russia against the world.
The election date was moved to 18 March to coincide with the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea in an attempt to boost patriotic spirits in the absence of real political intrigue.