Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will stand again for a fifth term in office.
He announced it at an awards ceremony for participants of the full-scale war he launched against Ukraine in 2022.
It comes a day after election officials set 15-17 March 2024 as dates for the presidential election.
The re-election of Mr Putin, 71, is seen as inevitable, with opposition almost non-existent and Russian media completely under his control.
Mr Putin served as president in 2000-08, returning to the role from a stint as prime minister in 2012. This means that he has already been in power in Russia longer than any ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Russia’s constitution was amended in 2020, increasing the presidential term from four to six years and giving Mr Putin a clean slate to run again next year by cancelling out his previous terms.
A victory in March would see him remain as president until 2030. After that, he can then potentially serve another six years until 2036 if he decides to stand again.
Mr Putin – a former KGB officer – had been widely expected to run for the country’s top job, amid huge challenges brought about by his invasion of Ukraine and resulting stand-off with the West.
He is unlikely to face any serious opposition, with most genuine opponents either dead, behind bars or in exile.
On Thursday, Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, announced the elections. Shortly afterwards, the country’s electoral commission said they would be held over three days, from 15-17 March.
Following the announcement, the Kremlin’s official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that an “astonishing” number of people wanted Mr Putin to continue as leader.
He did not take long to make his intentions clear.
Mr Putin spoke at an informal gathering after a ceremony in the Kremlin to award Ukraine war veterans with the Hero of Russia medal.
His words were in answer to a request that he stand again for election from Lt-Col Artyom Zhoga, who heads a former pro-Russian separatist unit in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region – which Moscow declared annexed together with another three Ukrainian regions in September 2022.
“Now is the time when one needs to take decisions. I will be running for the post of president of the Russian Federation,” Mr Putin said in remarks shown on Russian TV.
Mr Putin was handed the presidency at the very end of 1999 by his ailing predecessor Boris Yeltsin.
Mr Putin’s grip on power, which has never really been in doubt, has tightened throughout his leadership.
Source: Ghana News