MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he will contest the March 2018 elections to seek his fourth term as president.
Putin’s announcement came during his address to workers at an automobile factory in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s fifth largest city.
“Yes, I will run for the president in next year’s election,” Putin said.
The election is scheduled to be held on March 18, the anniversary of Russian annexation of Crimea.
Though the list of candidates is yet to be announced, experts say that Putin is likely to be elected as president of the country for another term.
If victorious in the upcoming election, Putin will stay in office until 2024.
According to a recent survey published by the Russian Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), 68 percent Russians will vote for Putin in the elections.
Putin’s closest competitors, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, followed with 7 percent votes and Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, with 4 percent votes in the elections, according to the survey.
Alexei Navalny, an opposition activist and the founder of the Anti-corruption Fund, announced that he will run for president, despite objections from Russian authorities due to lawsuits against him.
Ksenia Sobchak, a famous Russian television anchor who is the daughter of St. Petersburg’s first mayor Anatoly Sobchak, had also announced her candidacy recently.
However, the Russian press says that Sobchak’s candidacy is a step approved by the Kremlin, intended to “dilute the opposition”.
Journalist and human rights activist Yekaterina Gordon also announced his decision to contest the presidential race.
Though Gordon has no chance of being elected in the elections, Russian media accused she had made the announcement for self promotion.