Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he will run in the 2024 presidential election.
Putin announced his decision to seek to extend his rule on Friday. He is almost certain to win a fifth term as president, allowing him to continue leading Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
If elected, the 71-year-old will extend his 24-year leadership of Russia, albeit with an eight-year stint spent formally as prime minister. His tenure is now the longest of any ruler of Russia since Josef Stalin.
The decision comes as little surprise, with Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine seen as having boosted patriotic support for the president.
Putin announced his plan at an awards ceremony at which he presented veterans of the war with Russia’s highest military honour, state-run news agencies reported.
State media reported that one recipient of the Hero of Russia gold star, a lieutenant colonel named Artyom Zhoga, had asked the president to run again.
“He will run,” the soldier told reporters afterwards.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had said that many people have urged Putin to run.
Russia’s Federation Council upper house approved on Thursday a date of March 17 for the vote.
Opposition politicians have cast the election as one that threatens democracy amid claims that Putin has tunred Russia into a corrupt dictatorship.
In recent years, prominent opposition leaders like Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin have also been imprisoned.
Opponents have suggested they have some hope that the war in Ukraine, and the Western sanctions it has triggered – as well as a failed mutiny by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin in June – could see the Kremlin chief’s standing in the upcoming elections challenged.
But independent polling suggests that support for Putin remains strong, with approval ratings of above 80 percent.
His supporters say that Putin has restored order, and some of the clout that Russia lost during the chaos of the Soviet collapse in the 1990s.
Putin was handed the presidency by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, and has already served as president for longer than any other ruler of Russia since Stalin, beating even Leonid Brezhnev’s 18-year tenure.