Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he would seek a new six-year term in the country's March elections in a move that would make him the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.
The president chose to make the long-expected announcement at the GAZ automobile factory in Nizhny Novgorod, where he found an enthusiastic audience in the workers.
If he wins, which he nearly certainly will, Putin will have spent 24 years as Russian leader by the end of his term in 2024, including four years in which he was prime minister but still called the shots. I want to say that at present, we have trust only in our president who returned the people of Crimea to their motherland, who restores Russian Federation and who loves his people. "I suggest we don't agree".
The challenge for Putin though is not other candidates - nobody, including Navalny, looks capable of unseating him. Instead, his toughest task will be to mobilise an electorate showing signs of apathy to ensure a high turnout which in the tightly-controlled limits of the Russian political system is seen to confer legitimacy.
With his approval ratings topping 80 percent, Putin is certain to win a quick victory in the March 18 vote.
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There is no obvious successor.
Putin, once re-elected, will have to choose whether to leave Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister, or to appoint someone else.
At the factory, he said that there wasn't a better moment to announce his plans. She also said that the law allows Putin to not participate in debates, as performing his duties as head of state is a valid reason to send representatives for such events.
They are broadly supportive of the Kremlin's policies and have repeatedly run for president, behaviour critics say is a ruse to create the illusion of genuine political choice.
"The United Russia party that has been founded by President Putin will support his candidacy".