Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has affirmed that he would run for re-election next year.
The election is scheduled to take place on March 17, 2023.
According to Russian state news agency, Putin made the announcement in the Kremlin after awarding soldiers who had fought in Ukraine with the country’s highest military honour, the hero of Russia gold star.
“I will not hide that I have had different thoughts at different times but it is now time to make a decision,” Putin told the soldiers.
Putin was shown in television footage saying in the Georgievsky Hall, part of the Grand Kremlin Palace, “I will run for the post of President.”
The announcement was widely expected and there is little question about the outcome.
Putin has dominated Russia’s political system and the media over the past two decades.
Prominent opposition politicians, such as Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin, who could challenge him on the ballot have been jailed.
Putin has won previous elections, which independent election watchdogs say were marred by widespread fraud, in a landslide.
Putin, who was handed the presidency by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, has already served as President for longer than any other ruler of Russia since Josef Stalin, beating even Leonid Brezhnev’s 18-year tenure.
If Putin remains in power until 2036, he will surpass Stalin and become the longest-serving Moscow leader since the Russian empire.
Analysts said that Putin’s decision to announce his candidacy in front of Russian soldiers points to his desire to link the war to his re-election campaign.
“The elections are meant to legitimise his decision to invade Ukraine,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, based in Moscow.
“He wants to demonstrate that the majority of Russians support the war,” Kolesnikov added.
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