President Vladimir Putin, 65, announced on Wednesday that he would seek a fourth term as president of Russia in a March election. If he will win again, a six-year term until 2024 would make him the longest time Russian leader since Joseph Stalin sat in the Kremlin for 29 years.
Calling the collapse of the Soviet Union one of the greatest catastrophes of the 20th century, he has built his formidable popularity on the idea that Russia should restore its natural destiny as a superpower, an equal to the United States in military might and global influence. Pursuing this goal, he decided annexation of Crimea in 2014. Election day was moved to March 18, the fourth anniversary of that annexation, as a pointed reminder to voters.
Russians experienced instability and poverty after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. After assuming the presidency in 2000, Mr. Putin brought stability and an extended period of prosperity, with Russians gaining more household income in the first eight years of his term.. Now, opposition figures get little or no access to national television, and there are countless hurdles to registering as a candidate. Some analysts said however that Russians will not accept a president for life. Putin was born Oct. 7, 1952, to factory-worker parents in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, a city pervaded by memories of the horrific suffering of the nearly 900-day Nazi siege in World War II.