Putin officially registered for March presidential election

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Vladimir Putin has been officially registered by Russia’s election commission as a candidate in the country’s incoming presidential election, where the incumbent is very likely to secure another six-year term in office.

Putin, who’s kept a grip on power for the past 24 years, is running as an independent candidate for the second time after 2018.

He was first elected president in 2012 as the United Russia party’s nominee, but his popularity has since exceeded that of the party, which is widely seen as part of the Kremlin-controlled state bureaucracy.

Putin, whose approval rating currently hovers around 80%, has changed the Russian constitution to be allowed to run for two more six-year terms.

The election, which is scheduled between 15 and 17 March, will exclude some of the president’s most prominent critics – like the jailed leader of the opposition Alexei Navalny – and won’t be covered by independent media in Russia, which is banned.

Three other candidates nominated by their parties have also been approved by the election committee, including Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, Leonid Slutsky of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov of the New People Party.

Boris Nadezhdin, a 60-year-old liberal politician who serves as a local legislator in a town near Moscow, is another hopeful presidential candidate who’s trying to run as an independent.

Nadezhdin, who openly advocates for ending the conflict in Ukraine and reopening a dialogue with the West, has received an unexpected amount of support from Russian citizens, who have lined up across the country to leave their signature for the politician.

Russian election law requires independent candidates to present at least 300,000 signatures to get on the ballot. The Central Election Commission is expected to review Nadezhdin’s papers later this week to decide whether to register him for the race.

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