World News

Vladimir Putin of Russia Confirms He’ll Run for President Again

Posted December 6, 2017 1:36 p.m. EST

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he would seek a fourth term as president of Russia in a vote set for March, an election he is expected to win handily.

He made the long-anticipated announcement on the floor of a GAZ Group vehicle factory in the northern industrial city of Nizhny Novgorod, delivering a brief statement in the seemingly spontaneous yet carefully choreographed manner he favors for major public appearances.

It began with a factory worker climbing onto the stage set up for the occasion to ask Putin if he would run for re-election, saying, “Today in this hall everybody, without exception, supports you. Give us a gift, announce your decision!”

With the hall erupting in cheers of “Gaz supports you!” Putin said he would run. “There is no better space and no better occasion to announce this,” he said. “I will run for the presidency of the Russian Federation.”

Putin is expected to cruise to re-election, not least because of his immense popularity and the extraordinary barriers to outsider candidates.

His strongest rival, the anti-corruption crusader Alexey Navalny, has been barred from running because of a series of criminal cases that he says are politically motivated. Navalny has established more than 80 campaign offices across Russia in an effort to force the government to let him register, but analysts consider that highly unlikely because Putin knows that Navalny would try to use the race to embarrass him over issues like corruption.

A recent entry into the race, Ksenia Sobchak, a journalist and celebrity reality show host, is running for president with what many consider at least the tacit approval of the Kremlin, to divide the opposition vote.

The rest of the field is dominated by political war horses like the Communist Party candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, who have been around for decades, and novices often plugging a particular cause.

The hurdles to establishing a candidacy are high, with opposition figures getting little access to television coverage. Add to that numerous technical hurdles, including the requirement that independent candidates collect hundreds of thousands of signatures of endorsement from members of the public during an abbreviated, three-month campaign.