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Putin Declines To Say Whether He Will Seek Reelection In 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin made his comments in Beijing on May 15.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declined to state publicly whether he plans to seek a new six-year term in a March 2018 election.

Asked by a journalist in Beijing on May 15 if it was time to announce whether or not he will run, Putin replied: "No."

Putin, 64, has been in power as president or prime minister since 1999.

He is widely expected to run in the election, and his popularity, dominance of the political arena, and control over the media and levers of power in Russia mean he would be heavily favored to win.

Lawmakers in parliament, which is dominated by the loyal United Russia party, are in the process of moving the date of the election back by one week to March 18 -- the day Russia celebrates its seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Anticorruption activist and opposition leader Aleksei Navalny announced in December that he plans to run, but officials may bar him from the ballot based on a criminal conviction he says was the result of a politically motivated prosecution ordered by the Kremlin.

Based on reporting by Dozhd, TASS, and Reuters