He has been in power for nearly 20 years, a dominant figure in Russia's post-Soviet political scene.

Vladimir Putin now says he is running for a fourth term in office, as an independent candidate, backed by the ruling United Russia party.

His power and influence appear to only be getting stronger, making it difficult for any opposition candidate to make progress.

Putin has served as either prime minister or president since 1999 and if he wins the election in March, it would mean he would have spent 24 years as Russia's leader by the end of his term.

So, can any opposition candidate win against Putin in the 2018 election?

Presenter: Hashem Ahelbarra


Sergey Strokan - columnist for the politics and business newspaper Kommersant

Andrew Wood - Britain's former ambassador to Russia

Alexander Soloviev - Chairman of Open Russia, a movement dedicated to democracy and human rights

Source: Al Jazeera