Arabic AR Chinese (Simplified) ZH-CN English EN French FR German DE Japanese JA Portuguese PT Russian RU Spanish ES Ukrainian UK

Putin announces 2018 re-election bid, ends long speculation

Latest news

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would seek re-election next year in a race he is poised to win easily, putting him on track to become the nation’s longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

    Putin’s approval ratings regularly top 80 percent, making him all but certain to win the March election by a broad margin. While few doubted the 65-year-old leader would run, the delay in his declaring so fueled some conspiracy theories and was seen as the Kremlin’s political maneuvering.

    The 65-year-old Russian leader’s potential rivals include several luckless candidates from past contests and a notable newcomer — TV host Ksenia Sobchak, 36, the daughter of Putin’s one-time boss.

    The president chose to make his re-election announcement at the GAZ automobile factory in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The factory is a symbol of Russian’s industrial might, and Putin found an enthusiastic audience in the blue-collar workers who make up the core of his base.

    “I couldn’t find a better place and moment,” he said to massive applause at the plant. “Thank you for your support. I will run for president.”

    For months, Putin fended off questions about his plans for 2018, fueling speculation about why he would not say if he would seek re-election. Some theorized he might step down and name a preferred successor.

    The Kremlin has been worried about growing voter apathy, and the uncertainty over Putin’s plans seemed intended to encourage public interest in the race.

    “It was necessary to ensure electoral mobilization,” Dmitry Orlov, a political consultant close to the Kremlin, said in televised remarks.

    Putin has been in power in Russia since 2000. He served two presidential terms during 2000-2008, then shifted into the prime minister’s seat because of term limits. As prime minister, he still called the shots while his ally, Dmitry Medvedev, served as the placeholder president.

    Medvedev had the president’s term extended to six years and then stepped down to let Putin reclaim the office in 2012. If Putin serves another six-year term, which would run through 2024, he would reach the milestone of having the longest tenure since Stalin, who ruled for nearly 30 years.

    Earlier Wednesday, Putin was asked about his intentions at a meeting with young volunteers in Moscow. He said he would decide shortly, then showed up at the GAZ factory making his announcement.

    The plant is one of the country’s most emblematic industrial giants. It was built during the Soviet industrialization drive in 1932 and has churned out millions of vehicles, from vans and military trucks to Volga sedans and luxury cars for the Soviet elite.

    “Thank you for your work, for your attitude to your jobs, your factory, your city and your country!” Putin told factory workers. “I’m sure that together we will succeed.”

    A stream of fawning comments from officials and lawmakers followed his declaration.

    Chechnya’s regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, hailed the president’s announcement, saying on Instagram that only Putin can “resist a massive shameless and unprecedented” pressure by the West.

    Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Putin’s decision helped end “anxiety and tensions in the society.”

    The upper house is expected to authorize the start of formal election campaigning later this month.

    Veterans of past campaigns — Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky — all have declared their intention to run. They will likely be joined by Sobchak, a well-known television host who is the daughter of the late St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who was Putin’s boss in the 1990s.

    “I don’t trust a system where Putin makes all decisions,” said Sobchak, who also met with voters in Nizhny Novgorod Wednesday. “Let’s believe in our ability to change the situation.”

    The most visible Putin foe, Alexei Navalny, also wants to join the race, even though a conviction he calls politically motivated bars him from running. He has organized a grassroots campaign and staged rallies across Russia to raise pressure on the government to allow him to run.

    In a signal that the Kremlin isn’t going to budge, Navalny’s campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, last week was sentenced to a month in jail for staging an unauthorized rally in Nizhny Novgorod. Navalny himself spent 20 days in jail in October for organizing another rally.

    View the original article: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/putin-inches-declaring-election-bid-51611079

    “The best illustration of how elections work in Russia is my campaign chief Leonid Volkov sitting in jail just one kilometer (less than a mile) from the venue where Putin declared his bid,” Navalny tweeted.

    In the same category are

    Reporter’s notebook: Cape Town residents struggle to survive water crisis You wouldn’t immediately realize there was a water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s still a busy, international place, full of tourists and loc...
    Only mom on Team USA shares historic Olympic gold in cross-country event Americans Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall, the only mom athlete on Team USA, made history today by winning gold in the women’s team sprint cross-co...
    US Jewish group withdraws Holocaust video offensive to Poles A prominent Jewish-American foundation removed a video from YouTube which had sparked outrage in Poland and beyond on Wednesday with its provocative u...
    $1M worth of gold bars seized from man trying to board flight in Kenya A man was arrested in Kenya's capital city carrying about $1 million worth of gold as he tried to board a plane to Dubai, according to Kenyan authorit...
    ‘Small explosion’ near US embassy in Montenegro, investigation ‘evolving’ There was a "small explosion" near the U.S. embassy compound in Podgorica, the capital of the Balkan nation of Montenegro, at approximately midnight l...
    Women’s hockey twins had sights set only on winning gold against Canada The U.S. women's hockey team has made no secret of their goal in Pyeongchang. They've been training for four years for just one game: a gold medal mat...

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *