Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced he will seek a new six-year term in the March 2018 election.
"I will put forth my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation," Putin said in Nizhny Novgorod on December 6.
The announcement confirmed widespread assumptions that Putin, who has held power as president or prime minister since 1999, would seek a fourth Kremlin term.
His popularity, control over the levers of power, and years of steps to suppress dissent and marginalize political opponents virtually ensure that he will win the March 18 election.
Putin, 65, would be barred from seeking another term in 2024 because the constitution prohibits presidents from holding more than two consecutive terms.
Putin made the announcement at a rally and concert marking the 85th anniversary of the Gorky auto factory in Nizhny Novgorod.
He said there was "probably no better place or better occasion for an announcement about this."
Putin had strongly hinted earlier in the day that he would run, fielding what appeared to be a scripted question by asking the members of a young audience at an televised awards ceremony in Moscow whether they would support his candidacy.
After shouts of "yes" came from the crowd, Putin said: "In that case, a decision will be made in the nearest future, taking into account the support from society."
With reporting by TASS, Reuters, AP, and Dozhd