Putin, 71, says he’s going to run for president for another six years
The Russian president's major political rivals have all been murdered or imprisoned.
The 71-year-old dictator has shrugged off rumours about his health and appeared more active in recent weeks.
There is no chance he will lose since the elections are routinely rigged with only candidates hand-picked by Putin allowed to run.
His biggest rival, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, has been sentenced to life in jail on spurious charges.
Others rivals, such as ex-deputy premier Boris Nemtsov – gunned down close to the Kremlin in 2015 – were murdered.
Russian elections are also known for flagrant abuses such as ballot stuffing and multiple votes in favour of Putin.
Putin made the announcement today after handing out Hero of Russia awards, his country’s highest honours.
The announcement came after rare footage showed Putin’s ‘Flying Kremlin’ Il-96-300PU presidential jet over Iran, escorted by four Su-35 warplanes loaded with RVV-MD2 and R-77 missiles, and an Iranian aircraft.
It was filmed earlier this week when Putin returned from a one day visit to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia – a rare foreign trip.
Putin agreed without hesitation to accept a new presidential term when he was asked to do so, said Col. Artem Zhoga – a Hero of Russia – who evidently asked the president to confirm his intention to run again.
Kremlin pool correspondent Andrei Kolesnikov wrote that ‘the president agreed. The rest [ of the heroes] then joined the request.’
Putin has been acting president or president since the last day off 1999 except for a four year interlude from 2008-2012 when he was prime minister.
‘We are very glad that the president heard our request for nomination, all of Russia supports him,’ said Zhoga, chairman of the People’s Council of the invaded Donetsk region of Ukraine.
The poll will take place from 15 to 17 March.
The new term will begin in early May.
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