Spotlight: Putin declares candidacy in 2018 presidential race, widely expected to win
MOSCOW, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that he would seek a new term in the presidential election next year, which analysts say that he is almost certain to win easily.
"I will stand as a candidate for the post of president of the Russian Federation," Putin said during a meeting with employees of a car-making plant in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Despite an increasing number of candidates, Putin is largely expected to win by a landslide the "plebiscite-type election," which is scheduled for March 18, 2018.
"It will be a referendum on public trust in Vladimir Putin. This is due to the actual arrangement of political forces," said Mikhail Remizov, Chairman of the National Strategy Institute.
He added that it would be a major issue to encourage public interest in the next year's election, as "the outcome is perfectly clear to both Putin's supporters and his opponents," which leads to growing apathy and indifference among the voters.
According to Remizov, public attention is now mainly focused on Putin's agenda in the election, his priorities and plans for the next term.
"The main task (for national leaders) is to formulate a ground-breaking program on national development...We need Indian or Chinese development today, and we have not reached that level yet. So the question of how to promote the economy and how to ensure high economic growth rates remains the key," he said.
Putin was elected president of Russia in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. From 2008 to 2012, he served as prime minister. In 2012, Putin was elected president again.
Currently, Putin's approval rate is around 80 percent, according to public opinion polls.
So far, several people have officially declared their intention to join the 2018 presidential race, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia; Grigory Yavlinsky, founder of the liberal Yabloko party; and Maxim Suraikin, head of the Communists of Russia party.
The list also includes TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak, businessman Sergei Polonsky, as well as singer and journalist Ekaterina Gordon.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny also expects to participate, but he cannot do that due to his previous conviction, according to the Russian Central Electoral Commission.[ Editor: meng ]