russia sets date for presidential election

The winner of the contest is widely seen as a foregone conclusion: Vladimir V. Putin.

Lawmakers in Russia on Thursday set March 17 as the date for the country’s next presidential election, launching a race that few doubt will result in President Vladimir V. Putin’s re-election for another six-year term.

While the vote’s outcome is widely seen as a foregone conclusion in Russia, the campaign will take place under drastically different circumstances than the previous one in 2018.

It will be the first presidential election since Mr. Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. It also will be the first election since the passage of constitutional amendments in 2020 that allowed Mr. Putin, 71, to circumvent term limits. (Some constitutional lawyers and experts still debate the legality of the reset.)

The vote on Thursday in the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, marked the formal start of the election campaign. Speaking before the vote, Valentina I. Matviyenko, the council’s speaker, gave a strong indication of who she thought would win.

“Our people will confidently make the only right choice by casting their votes for Russia, victory, and a future in a strong and sovereign country,” said Ms. Matviyenko, referring to the priorities stated by Mr. Putin, even if she didn’t mention him by name.

Mr. Putin is expected to announce his intention to run in the coming weeks, but some political parties rushed to endorse him on Thursday ahead of a formal declaration.

Sergei M. Mironov, the leader of the Just Russia party, one of five represented in the Russian parliament, said his group was endorsing Mr. Putin, as did Vladimir A. Shamanov, a deputy from the ruling United Russia party.

Ella A. Pamfilova, the head of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission, said the body would deliberate in the coming days about whether the vote would take place over a three-day period, instead of on one day — a more drawn out process that critics have said reduces transparency.

The commission will also discuss whether the vote will be conducted in the areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia following the invasion, Ms. Pamfilova said.

The presidential campaign got launched amid a period of intense diplomacy for Mr. Putin.

On Wednesday, he made quick trips to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. On Thursday, he spoke to international investors, many of them from China and India, at a conference in Moscow. He also met Thursday with President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, a country that since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine has emerged as a key ally in terms of arms deliveries and other trade.

Many parties and potential candidates have featured in previous elections, but this time, following the invasion of Ukraine, the political landscape is vastly different.

Numerous outspoken critics of Mr. Putin and his policies have had to flee Russia. Aleksei A. Navalny, whose presidential bid was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission, is serving a lengthy prison term in a penal colony. On Thursday, Mr. Navalny’s political allies called on Russians to vote for any candidate other than Mr. Putin.

“Putin has been terrorizing our country for 24 years,” said Ivan Y. Zhdanov, the director of Mr. Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, in a video announcing the effort. “He plans to do it indefinitely.”

So far, three Russian politicians have announced their intention to run against Mr. Putin.

Boris B. Nadezhdin, a municipal deputy in a suburban town near Moscow, has said the end of the war was his top priority. Igor Girkin, a nationalist warlord and blogger currently in jail awaiting trial on extremism charges, has argued for a tougher approach in Ukraine. Yekaterina S. Duntsova, who also campaigns against the war, has garnered limited national appeal so far.

In order to register as candidates, they must collect thousands of signatures from supporters, a requirement that can be a tough bar to overcome for opposition politicians in a country where opposition activity has been sharply curtailed by the state.

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