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Russia's Putin to run again for president in 2024

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he would run for president again in the 2024 presidential election, a move expected to keep him in power until at least 2030.

WHEN?

The election will be held over three days from March 15-17 and the winner will be inaugurated in May.

The upper house of the Russian parliament voted for the date on Thursday - essentially the start of the election campaign.

Voting will also take place in what Russia calls its new territories - parts of Ukraine now controlled by Russian forces. Ukraine says it will not rest until it has ejected every last soldier from the annexed territories. Russia says the regions are now part of Russia.

HOW MANY VOTERS?

Around 110 million people have the right to vote in Russia, though around 70-80 million people usually cast ballots.

Turnout in 2018 was 67.5%.

HOW LONG CAN A RUSSIAN PRESIDENT RULE?

Putin, who was handed the presidency by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, has already served as president for longer than any other ruler of Russia since Josef Stalin, beating even Leonid Brezhnev's 1964-82 tenure.

The 1993 Russian constitution, based loosely on France's 1958 constitution, was seen by some in the West as a development that would lead to democracy in post-Soviet Russia.

It originally specified that a president could serve for two successive terms of four years.

Amendments in 2008 extended the presidential term to six years, while amendments in 2020 effectively allowed Putin to run for a further two six-year terms after 2024.

The changes also banned ceding any territory.

PUTIN'S ELECTION RECORD

Putin used a Kremlin awards ceremony for soldiers who had fought in Ukraine to announce he would run again. Reuters reported last month that he had decided to do so. He will be assured of victory given backing from the state and its media.

After Putin was appointed as acting president by Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, he won the 2000 presidential election with 53.0% of the vote and the 2004 election with 71.3% of the vote.

In 2008, his protege Dmitry Medvedev ran for president and Putin served as prime minister before garnering 63.6% of the vote in the 2012 presidential election and 76.7% in 2018.

DEMOCRACY OR DICTATORSHIP?

The West casts Putin as a war criminal and dictator, although some Russian opinion polls show he has approval ratings of 80% - higher than before the war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin says Putin enjoys overwhelming support from the Russian people, that Russia does not want to be lectured by the West about democracy and that no politicians in the West enjoy similar levels of approval to those Putin has.

WHAT DO ELECTION MONITORS SAY?

In 2018, an OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) mission observed the election.

"After intense efforts to promote turnout, citizens voted in significant numbers. Yet restrictions on the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression, as well as on candidate registration, have limited the space for political engagement and resulted in a lack of genuine competition," it said. "While candidates could generally campaign freely, the extensive and uncritical coverage of the incumbent as president in most media resulted in an uneven playing field. Overall, election day was conducted in an orderly manner despite shortcomings related to vote secrecy and transparency of counting."

Golos, an independent Russian vote-monitoring movement, has come under pressure from authorities over recent months.

Golos said such attacks, including the detention of its leader, were aimed at preventing public observation of the presidential election.

WHO ELSE WILL, OR CAN, RUN?

Putin will face little real competition.

In the 2018 vote, the man who came second, Communist strawberry tycoon Pavel Grudinin, who formerly supported Putin, won under 9 million votes, or just 11.8%. Putin won over 56 million votes, according to official results.

Russia's most famous opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, is in jail so cannot run for president. Navalny has castigated Putin's Russia as a state run by thieves and criminals. He has warned Russia's leaders will ultimately be crushed by the forces of history and burn in hell for creating a bloodbath in Ukraine.

Pro-war Russian nationalist Igor Girkin, who is in custody awaiting trial for inciting extremism, said in November that he wanted to run for president even though he understood the March election would be a "sham" with the winner already clear.

He will be behind bars, though, when the election is held.

In the 2018 election, besides Putin and Grudinin, six others ran including nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who died in 2022, Ksenia Sobchak, a socialite who is the daughter of Putin's old boss in St Petersburg; and Grigory Yavlinsky, a Russian economist turned opposition politician.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Osborn)