Russian President Vladimir Putin declared his intention Wednesday to seek re-election next year, a vote he appears certain to win and that would set him up to become the nation’s longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Putin chose to make the long-expected announcement at the GAZ automobile factory in Nizhny Novgorod, where he found an enthusiastic audience in the plant’s blue-collar workers.
“I couldn’t find a better place and moment for that,” he said to massive applause. “Thank you for your support. I will run for president.”
Putin has been in power in Russia since 2000. He served two presidential terms in 2000-2008, then shifted into the prime minister’s seat because of term limits, but continued calling the shots while his ally, Dmitry Medvedev, served as placeholder president.
Medvedev had the presidential term extended to six years and then stepped down to let Putin reclaim the presidency in 2012. If Putin serves another six-year term that would run through 2024, he would reach the milestone for longest tenure as leader since Stalin.