President Vladimir Putin kept Russians waiting as he dodged an opportunity to announce his long-awaited bid for another six-year term.
"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.
If he wins, which he nearly certainly will, Putin will have spent 24 years as Russian leader by the end of his term in 2024, including four years in which he was prime minister but still called the shots.
Putin served as prime minister - though few doubted who was really in charge - and returned as president in 2012. Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) greets participants as he arrives at the congress of volunteers in Moscow, Russia December 6, 2017.
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He would be barred by the constitution from seeking a fifth presidential term in 2024.
Russia's forthcoming election is due on March 18, 2018. Instead, his toughest task will be to mobilise an electorate showing signs of apathy to ensure a high turnout which in the tightly-controlled limits of the Russian political system is seen to confer legitimacy.
On January 12, 2000, the initiative group nominated him to take part in the early elections of the head of state, and a day later Putin agreed to run, as he reported in his native city - St. Petersburg, speaking at the St. Petersburg State University. "Because we have elections coming, so you can invite me in February - I can still do it in February", Putin said alluding to his participation in the presidential election in March 2018. That decision will trigger a round of intrigue over the succession, as whoever holds the prime minister's post is often viewed as the president's heir apparent.