Alec Luhn — Telegraph.co.uk Dec 6, 2017
After months of eager expectation and rumours, Vladimir Putin has announced he will run for re-election in March’s presidential vote.
Mr Putin made the announcement while speaking to workers at the 85th anniversary of the Gorky automobile plant (GAZ) in Nizhny Novgorod, a Soviet-era powerhouse that has been somewhat revived through orders from Western carmakers in recent years.
Earlier on Wednesday, a participant at a volunteer conference appeared to disrupt the careful stage management that has surrounded Mr Putin’s announcement by asking him in front of an audience whether he would run. The president would only reply that the “decision should be made very soon”.
“Today at the volunteer forum you were asked whether you would put your candidacy forward, and you said you would if the people support you. All of us in this hall support you without exception,” an employee at GAZ told Mr Putin to the applause of his co-workers. “Vladimir Vladimirovich, give us a present, announce your decision. Because GAZ is for you! GAZ is for you!”
“There is probably no better place and reason for this,” Mr Putin said. “Thank you for your support, I will put my candidacy forward for the presidency of the Russian Federation.”
Amid applause and uplifting music pumped over the speakers, he praised the factory and its long history.
“Thank you for your work, thank you for your relationship with your enterprise, your city and your country,” he said. “I’m confident that everything will work out for us.”
State television immediately began devoting its evening news programmes to the announcement, which it dubbed a “historic event”. The ruling United Russia party within minutes announced it would back Mr Putin.
During his appearance, the president also said Russia “won’t announce any blockade” of the 2018 Winter Olympics after it was banned on Tuesday over its doping programme. Russian athletes can still participate under a neutral flag.