Russian President Vladimir Putin said he intends to seek re-election in March's election, The Associated Press reported.
Speaking to workers at a auto factory, Putin said: "I will put forward my candidacy for the post of President of the Russian federation".
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. "I'm sure that everything will work out for us". "To my mind, that's too long".
Despite the Central Election Commission ruling him ineligible to stand, Navalny has organised mass protests and set up campaign headquarters across the country, hoping he can pressure the authorities into allowing him to stand.
Asked by the announcer whether he would run in the election, which is scheduled for March 18, Putin responded by asking whether the mostly young audience members and others like them would support his candidacy.
There is no obvious successor. In late November, United Russia Chairman Dmitry Medvedev pledged "unconditional" support for Putin if he chooses to run.
At the factory, he said that there wasn't a better moment to announce his plans.
A political ingénue, Sobchak has scant chance of winning.
"With active participation of people like you, we will solve any, even the most challenging, tasks we face", he told the rally.
Putin has effectively been in power in Russian Federation since 2000.
Veterans of past campaigns _ Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky _ all have declared their intention to run.
State TV, where many Russians still get their news, affords Putin blanket and uncritical coverage while ignoring or denigrating his opponents.