During the Soviet Union's existence from 1922 to 1991 there was no official leader of the Soviet Union position but a Soviet leader normally held power as Premier and/or through the office of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the role of president of the Russian Federation was created. Originally introduced as a four-year term, the post has now been extended to six years.
Five candidates are running for the presidency on March 4, including Vladimir Putin who served as president from 1999 to 2008. There have been 12 Soviet and post-Soviet leaders since 1922.