This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The Kremlin has neither confirmed nor denied a report on November 6 that President Vladimir Putin has decided to run in the March 2024 presidential election, saying only he has “not made any statement” on the issue.
Reacting to a report by Reuters that quoted multiple sources as saying Putin had decided to run, a move that would keep him in power until least 2030, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the start of the election campaign had yet to officially begin.
The 71-year-old Putin, who many expect will try to stay in power for life, though rumors of ill-health — all of which have been denied by the Kremlin — have raised questions in some quarters as to what his future plans hold.
“The decision has been made — he will run,” one of the sources who has knowledge of planning told Reuters, while another source said that a choreographed hint is due to come within a few weeks, confirming a Kommersant newspaper report last month.
The Russian parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, is expected to announce the exact date of the presidential election in December, after which political parties will start nominating their candidates for the March election.
Putin was handed the presidency by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999 and has already served as president or prime minister for longer than any other Russian ruler since Josef Stalin, outlasting even Leonid Brezhnev, who held power for 18 years.
Putin is eligible to run for a new term in 2024 due to amendments to the Russian Constitution that he orchestrated in 2020.
Before the amendments were introduced, the constitution allowed for a president to serve for two consecutive six-year terms only, meaning that Putin was to step down in 2024 after the end of his second sequential presidential term.
The idea of introducing the amendments was initiated in a very Soviet-style way by lawmaker Valentina Tereshkova, the world’s first woman to fly into outer space in 1963.
Under the new constitution, Putin is eligible to stay in power until 2036 if he wins another term in office in 2024 and is then reelected six years later.
While there is little doubt Putin will win the tightly controlled vote if he runs, recent setbacks could nonetheless make the election more problematic for the Kremlin.
After launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine February 2022, Putin has been criticized both by those who support the war and those who are against it.
Russian nationalists who support the war, have criticized Putin for his handling of the Ukraine invasion, demanding harsher attacks against Ukrainian armed forces, while opposition activists have demanded a halt to the invasion, which analysts say has cost Russia the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers as Ukraine — with the backing of much of the West — puts up far stiffer resistance than expected.