President Vladimir Putin kept Russians waiting as he dodged an opportunity to announce his long-awaited bid for another six-year term.
With his approval ratings topping 80 percent, Putin is certain to win a quick victory in the March 18 vote.
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The appearance was shown live on state television. If he wins what would be a fourth presidential term in March, he would be eligible to serve another six years until 2024, when he turns 72.
Russian Federation will move only forward and no one will stop its advance, Putin pointed out, adding: "Certainly, the foundation is always laid by people like you, the toilers in the broadest meaning of the word, comprising workers, scientists, engineers, designers, teachers and doctors", he emphasized adding such people "are not just the backbone of our country, but they are our country, they are Russian Federation". I want to say that at present, we have trust only in our president who returned the people of Crimea to their motherland, who restores Russian Federation and who loves his people.
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For months, Putin was fending off endless questions about his plans, fueling speculation about possible motives behind the delay. Even earlier on Wednesday the Russian president was coy about seeking re-election when he took to the stage at a youth volunteer forum in Moscow and was asked directly. "The decision gives us trust in a better tomorrow because our president has proven with his deeds and his service to the nation that we can do a lot". They will likely be joined by Ksenia Sobchak, a star TV host who is the daughter of late former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who was Putin's boss in the 1990s.
Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been formally barred from standing, because he was found guilty of embezzlement - a charge he claims was politically motivated.
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