Putin to seek new term as Russian president

Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he would seek a new six-year term in the country’s March elections in a move that would make him the longest serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.

Putin, who has been in power for the last 18 years, is expected to sail to victory, with only token opponents competing against him. “I will offer my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation,” he said at the GAZ factory in Nizhny Novgorod, surrounded by workers.

Putin’s widely expected announcement came as Russia reeled from a decision by the International Olympic Committee to ban the country from the Winter Games as punishment over claims of state-orchestrated doping. But despite a litany of mounting problems including corruption, poverty and poor healthcare, the 65-year-old leader enjoys approval ratings of some 80 percent. Just hours earlier, Putin had declined to confirm his candidacy at a glitzy event dedicated to volunteers.

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