Russian President Vladimir Putin will seek re-election in March 2018.
On Dec. 6, Putin disclosed his intention to seek a fourth term during a rally at the Gorky Automobile Factory in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, The Washington Post reports.
"Today in this hall everybody, without exception, supports you," a GAZ worker told Putin during the rally, The New York Times reports. "Give us a gift, announce your decision!"
"I will nominate my candidacy for the post of the president of the Russian federation," 65-year-old Putin said, according to The Washington Post. "Perhaps there is no better place and better reason for announcing this. I'm sure that it will all work out well for us."
Putin, a former KGB agent, assumed the Russian presidency in 2000. In 2008, he was elected prime minister after term limits prevented him from seeking a third term as president.
Following an amendment to the Russian constitution, he returned to the presidency in 2012 and began to serve a six-year third term. If he were to win reelection, he would be in power until 2024, according to The New York Times.
He would also become the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.
The 2018 Russian election already has 30 candidates vying for the presidency, but none of them are perceived to pose a serious challenge to Putin's reelection.
Anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, a prominent Putin critic, has campaigned, but was disqualified from contention due to a criminal conviction. Navalny has asserted the charges against him were politically motivated.
"He wants to be in power for 21 years," Navalny wrote on social media following Putin's announcement. "In my opinion that's a bit much. I suggest that you disagree with him."
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona also took to social media to ridicule Putin's re-election bid with sarcasm.
"STOP THE PRESSES!" McCain tweeted out on Dec. 6.
Putin enjoys overwhelming popularity in Russia, where national polls give him an approval rating averaging around 80 percent, according to The Washington Post. Critics have asserted that Putin's favorability stems partly from the majority of Russian media being state-owned.
On Dec. 5, the International Olympic Committee banned Russia from participating in the 2018 Winter Games amid allegations that the nation had conducted a state-sanctioned doping scheme. Several Russian officials cast the punishment as a Western conspiracy, while others said it would only bolster Putin's popularity among voters.
"Outside pressure just makes us stronger," a source close to the Russian government told Reuters.