Putin says will seek new six-year term as president in March

Putin says will seek new six-year term as president in March

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said he would seek a new six-year term in the country's March elections in a move that would make him the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.

"I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation", he told an audience of workers at a auto factory in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.

But despite a litany of mounting problems including corruption, poverty and poor healthcare, the 65-year-old leader enjoys approval ratings of some 80 percent.

Asked by the announcer whether he would run in the election, which is scheduled for March 18, Putin responded by asking whether the mostly young audience members and others like them would support his candidacy.

Putin has spent a year dodging the question about whether he would run. "Have you invited me in any capacity, in a personal capacity?" Putin told workers. "I'm sure that together we will succeed".

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Just hours earlier Putin had declined to confirm his candidacy at a glitzy event dedicated to volunteers.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who was then a deputy chief of staff at the Kremlin, led the second for Putin presidential election campaign in 2004.

The most visible Putin foe, Alexei Navalny, also wants to run, even though a conviction he calls politically motivated bars him from joining the campaign. If he wins what would be a fourth presidential term, he will be eligible to serve another six years until 2024, when he turns 72.

He has organised a grassroots campaign and staged rallies across Russian Federation to raise pressure on the Kremlin to let him register for the race.

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