Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term in office — which would keep him in the Kremlin through 2024, if he wins another six-year term as expected. Putin faces no serious threats in his re-election bid.
"I am sure that we will be very successful," Putin, 65, said after confirming his plan to mount a re-election bid. He spoke briefly about the campaign toward the end of an event held at an automobile plant in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. Putin's comments Wednesday were translated into English by state-supported Ruptly TV.
Putin has acted as Russia's prime minister or president in every year since 1999. He served two terms as president, from 2000 to 2008. At the end of that stretch, he became prime minister to his close ally, Dmitry Medvedev — and Russia then changed its law to make the presidency run for six-year terms. Putin was again elected president in 2012.
Taking his time in the two high offices into account, Putin is already Russia's second-longest-serving leader in the past 100 years, with only dictator Josef Stalin logging more time in power. That tally includes Putin's time as prime minister; another six-year term as president would put him closer to Stalin's nearly 30-year reign.
In its headline announcing that Putin wants to stay in office, The Moscow Times added, "surprising no one."
The newspaper notes that the vote on March 18 will coincide with the anniversary of Putin's orchestration of Russia annexing Crimea from Ukraine, an event that has boosted his popularity.
"According to a recent poll by the independent Levada Center, 53 percent of Russians would vote for Putin, with his closest rival, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, getting 4 percent," NPR's Lucian Kim reports from Moscow. "Just 1 percent would vote for opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is expected not be registered as a candidate anyway. Twenty-five percent said they didn't know whether they would vote or for whom; another 11 percent said they wouldn't vote at all."
News of the upcoming vote was trumpeted by state-run Tass media on Tuesday — the same day Russia learned it would be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea over a widespread doping program. Rather than competing under Russia's flag, the country's athletes must pass added scrutiny and must compete under an Olympic flag.