Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Dec. 8 that he would participate in the upcoming presidential elections in March, seeking his 5th term in office, Russian state-run news agencies reported.
Putin made the widely expected announcement at the Kremlin as he gave awards to soldiers who fought in Russia's war against Ukraine.
Russia's upper chamber of parliament, the Federation Council, voted on Dec. 7 to set the date for the presidential elections on March 17 next year.
Putin has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999. Constitutional changes signed by the Russian leader in 2021 allowed Putin to run for two more six-year terms, meaning he can potentially stay in power until 2036.
It is unclear if other candidates will nominally participate, but Putin's victory is all but assured. Freedom House, a nonprofit advocating international democracy, gave Russia a 0/4 score in its 2022 report card on political freedoms in the country.
"Russia has never experienced a democratic transfer of power between rival groups," described Freedom House. Any meaningful opposition is prevented from having a fair chance at winning elections, creating "an authoritarian political system (that) is concentrated in the hands of President Vladimir Putin."
Russian authorities also use politically motivated charges against opposition figures to prevent a serious challenge to the regime, as they did with Alexei Navalny during the 2018 presidential election.