Vladimir Putin, Russia's leader, has chosen to run for president in March next year, news agencies reported on Friday. This decision will allow Putin to maintain his decades-long grip on power.
After an awards ceremony for army troops in the Kremlin, Putin informed Russian military commander Lt. Col. Artyom Zhoga of his decision to participate in the next vote, state news media said.
“The president has declared that he wants to run for president of the Russian Federation,” state news channel RIA Novosti reported.
“All of us – I say this with confidence – in the reunited territories, all of Russia, support him. We are very happy that he heard our request to participate, Zhoga added, referring to the Ukrainian territories that Moscow claims as its own.
However, Putin has not yet made a formal announcement that he will participate in the elections, which will take place between March 15 and 17 next year.
“Our president has never avoided responsible decisions and will not do so,” said Valentina Matvienko, head of Russia's upper house of parliament.
“And today he confirmed this again. He confirmed that at the moment of a historic choice and a historic challenge,” she added.
According to commentators, Putin is unlikely to face any significant opposition and is likely to seek a broad mandate to mask domestic divisions over the situation in Ukraine.