Russian president Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he will seek another term.
"I will put forward my candidacy for the post of president of the Russian Federation", he told an audience of workers at a vehicle factory in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
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.
But opponents say he has overseen a corrupt authoritarian system and accuse him of destabilising the world order through Moscow's interventions in Syria and Ukraine.
Whilst next year's election in March is devoid of real suspense about who will win, what follows is more unpredictable as attention will turn to what happens after Putin's final term - under the current constitution - ends. That tally includes Putin's time as prime minister; another six-year term as president would put him closer to Stalin's almost 30-year reign.
"'I am sure that we will be very successful", Putin, 65, said after confirming his plan to mount a reelection bid.
The Kremlin has been anxious about growing voter apathy, and the uncertainty about Putin's plans seemed meant to encourage public interest in the race.
He has organised a grassroots campaign and staged rallies across Russian Federation to raise pressure on the Kremlin to let him register for the race.
Otherwise, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, 73, and nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 71, both political retreads, are likely to run.
"The decision will be taken and announced in the near future", said Putin, without making it clear just how soon.
One of the items at the top of Mr Putin's agenda if he wins re-election will be whether to keep prime minister Dmitry Medvedev in post. 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.
The appearance was shown live on state television.