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Putin announces presidential re-election bid, fifth term expected to be certain

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he will run for re-election on March 17, which will likely secure him a fifth term in office.

Putin, 71, announced his decision after an award ceremony in the Kremlin, after which veterans and others reportedly implored him to run.

Putin, who already has a firm grip on power, is widely expected to get another six years in office, but a constitutional amendment could allow him to be re-elected in 2030 and extend his powers until 2036. There is. 2018 election vote share %.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that he will run for re-election on March 17, which is likely to secure him a fifth term in office. President Putin was photographed speaking at a ceremony to award Gold Star medals to veterans. (Valerie Chariflin/Pool/AFP)

“I will not hide this. I have had different thoughts on this matter for a long time, but now you are right. We need to make a decision,” Putin said in a video released by the Kremlin after the event. Ta.

“I am running for President of the Russian Federation.”

The announcement was modest, with analysts saying it was meant to appeal to Putin's perceived humility and focus on fulfilling his duties rather than campaigning loudly. There is.

The former intelligence officer remains hugely popular in Russia. His support soared with the start of the war against Ukraine and currently stands at 82%, according to the global data platform Statista. A revolt launched last summer by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin also failed, but his approval ratings remained intact.

Russian military fires rockets at Ukrainian troops

This distributed photo released by the Russian Ministry of Defense Press Service shows Russian troops firing rockets at Ukrainian troops at an undisclosed location. (Russian Ministry of Defense Press Service, via AP)

That support may be heartfelt, or it may reflect deference to a leader whose crackdown on dissent makes even relatively mild criticism dangerous.

Voting will take place over three days, a time period first used during the coronavirus pandemic and officials argue is more convenient for voters.

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The extension of the national voting window has been criticized as a risk to election integrity, requiring ballots to be kept securely overnight, complicating the job of poll watchers.

Four regions of Ukraine that have been partially and illegally annexed by Russia will also be able to vote.

It is unclear who will challenge Putin at the ballot box, but some have already indicated they will.

Igor Gilkin, who led pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine in 2014, recently said he wanted to challenge Putin. Girkin, an outspoken pro-war blogger who has been a fierce critic of Russia's military strategy in Ukraine, is currently in prison and awaiting trial on extremism charges, which he denies. .

Other candidates who have announced plans to run are Boris Nadezhdin, a former member of the Moscow region city council, and Ekaterina Duntsova, a journalist and lawyer from the Tver region north of Moscow. Legislature.

Igor Girkin

Igor Gilkin, a former Russian-backed separatist military commander in eastern Ukraine, sits in a glass cage in the courtroom of the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, August 29, 2023. Gilkin said he wants to challenge Putin. election. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlyanichenko)

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny last week called on his supporters to vote for someone other than Putin.

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“President Putin sees this election as a referendum on the approval of his actions,” Navalny said in an online statement.

“This is a referendum to approve war. Let’s thwart President Putin’s plans and make it happen in a way that all of Russia can see and understand so that no one will be interested in the fraudulent results of March 17th. The will of the majority. is President Putin's resignation.” ”

President Putin has held the office of president or prime minister since 1999, and has been president since 2012, his last presidential term being from 2000 to 2008.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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