Putin set for six more years at top
RUSSIA: Vladimir Putin has announced he will run for reelection as president of Russia next March.
After months of public speculation, he made the announcement while speaking to workers at the 85th anniversary of the Gorky automobile plant (GAZ) in Nizhny Novgorod, a Soviet-era powerhouse that has been revived through orders from Western carmakers in recent years.
He is almost certain to win another six-year term. By the end of it, he will have been in power for more than 24 years, including a stint as prime minister that allowed him to skirt the limit of two consecutive terms.
Earlier yesterday, a participant at a volunteer conference appeared to disrupt the careful stage management that has surrounded Putin’s announcement by asking him in front of an audience whether he would run. The president would only reply that the ‘‘decision should be made very soon’’.
‘‘Today at the volunteer forum, you were asked whether you would put your candidacy forward, and you said you would if the people support you. All of us in this hall support you without exception,’’ a GAZ employee told Putin to the applause of his coworkers.
‘‘Vladimir Vladimirovich, give us a present, announce your decision. Because GAZ is for you! GAZ is for you!’’
‘‘There is probably no better place and reason for this,’’ Putin said.
‘‘Thank you for your support, I will put my candidacy forward for the presidency of the Russian Federation.’’
Amid applause and uplifting music pumped over the speakers, he praised the factory and its long history.
‘‘Thank you for your work, thank you for your relationship with your enterprise, your city and your country,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m confident that everything will work out for us.’’
State television immediately began devoting its evening news programmes to the announcement, which it dubbed a ‘‘historic event’’. The ruling United Russia party within minutes announced it
"Vladimir Vladimirovich, give us a present, announce your decision."
Putin supporter and GAZ autoworker
would back Putin.
During his appearance, the president also said Russia ‘‘won’t announce any blockade’’ of the 2018 Winter Olympics after it was banned on Wednesday over its doping programme. Russian athletes can still participate under a neutral flag.
Putin has long been expected to run and is almost certain to win given his approval ratings, which have remained above 80 per cent since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
But he and the Kremlin have been cagey about when the announcement would be made. At 65, Putin has already reached the Russian retirement age, and he has run the country for 18 years, surpassed only by Joseph Stalin.
He has sometimes appeared bored with domestic issues at public appearances, although by all accounts he remains highly involved in foreign policy.
The ageing leaders of two Kremlin-loyal parties, who avoided criticising Putin during previous elections, have also announced their candidacies, as has Ksenia Sobchak, the controversial socialite nicknamed the ‘‘Russian Paris Hilton’’.
– Telegraph Group