Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday announced that he will run for re-election in 2024, state media reported.
The announcement follows months of speculation over whether the 71-year-old Putin, who has been in power since 2000, plans to seek six more years in office after constitutional amendments in 2020 reset his term count.
Putin told Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Zhoga, a Russian military officer, about his decision to participate in the upcoming vote following an awards ceremony for army personnel at the Kremlin, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
“At the front everyone was worried, wondering whether Putin will run,” Zhoga was quoted as saying.
“Putin said that there are good and bad times, but today he’s with the [Russian] people,” the officer continued, adding that he was ready to become one of Putin’s confidants on the campaign trail were he to be asked.
A video later released by the Kremlin captured the moment Zhoga asked the Russian leader to stand for re-election.
Just a day before Putin’s announcement, Russia’s upper-house Federation Council unanimously approved March 17 as the date for next year’s election, effectively kicking off the campaign.
Following the Russian leader’s reveal on Friday, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said: “Putin’s statement about his candidacy is based on the interests of the country and its citizens.”
Putin had said he would reveal his plans to run for a fifth term in office only after the country’s parliament formally called the presidential election, a race he is certain to win.
Nearly all opponents of the regime are now either in exile or imprisoned following a sweeping political crackdown that gained fierce momentum after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Thursday urged Russians to vote for any candidate besides Putin in the election.
“For Putin, this election is a referendum on the approval of his actions. A referendum on the approval of war. Let us thwart his plans,” Navalny said in a statement published on his website.
The war in Ukraine, now in its 22nd month, looms large over the 2024 presidential election, as Putin has cast the invasion as part of a greater struggle between Russia and the West.
Voting next year will also take place in what Russia calls its “new territories” — partially occupied regions of Ukraine that Moscow claims to have annexed last year.
The elections in occupied Ukrainian regions are seen as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to solidify political control there and “legitimize” them as Russian territory.
While Putin had kept his plans to run for re-election under tight wraps until the very last minute, in recent months, he had effectively already been campaigning, holding increasingly public events and meeting ordinary Russians face-to-face during his trips across the country.
Under Russia’s Constitution, Putin’s current presidential term — his second consecutive term since 2012 and his fourth overall — was supposed to be his last.
However, constitutional amendments adopted in 2020 reset Putin’s number of terms served, allowing him to be elected for two additional six-year terms.
Source: the Moscow Times