Russian President Vladimir Putin told workers at the Gorky Automobile Plant in Nizhny Novgorod that he intends to register as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, set for March 18 of next year.
“Yes, I will run for… president of the Russian Federation,” Putin said. “There is no better place and better reason for this announcement,” he added before thanking the factory workers for their support.
It is not yet clear whether Putin will run as an independent candidate or secure the backing of a political party – most likely the parliamentary majority party United Russia. In late November, United Russia Chairman Dmitry Medvedev pledged “unconditional” support for Putin if he chooses to run. On Wednesday, the deputy chairman of United Russia caucus in the State Duma, MP Andrey Isayev, confirmed this intention.
“The United Russia party that has been founded by President Putin will support his candidacy. I think that this decision will also be supported by an absolute majority of our country’s citizens, who see him as their national leader,” Isayev told RIA Novosti.
State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that Putin’s decision to run greatly adds to the people’s belief in a better future. “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. As the head of the state, he has done everything in the hardest of times to protect the people and the country from problems,” Volodin said.
The secretary of Russia’s Central Elections Commission, Maya Grishina, told reporters that according to law, the president does not have to take a leave for the period of the election campaign. She also said that the law allows Putin to not participate in debates, as performing his duties as head of state is a valid reason to send representatives for such events.
The former chief prosecutor of Crimea, United Russia MP Natalya Poklonskaya, said that Putin is the only presidential hopeful who has the trust of the Crimean people. “People waited for Vladimir Vladimirovich’s decision on election participation and it is made. 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 Russia and who loves his people. The people know this and they can feel it,” Poklonskaya was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
The deputy director of the Russian Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Vladimir Zorin, said that Putin’s choice of time and place for his announcement may reveal the principle agenda of his campaign.
“The statement was made in a working people’s collective and this one is one of the most well-known and most traditional – this is very important. This is proof, that the incumbent president addressed his statement to the working people, common Russians who attach their great hopes to him,” Zorin told RIA Novosti. He added that Nizhny Novgorod, where the Gorky Automobile Plant is located, is known as “Russia’s third capital” and the birthplace of the people’s militia movement that helped preserve Russian statehood and sovereignty during the 1612 war with Poland.