Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he would decide very soon whether he would run in next year's presidential election and would take into account public support levels for him.
Putin made the remarks in what seemed to be a tightly scripted appearance at an awards ceremony for volunteer groups in Moscow on December 6.
Putin is widely expected to win reelection and extend his dominance of Russian politics. "Thank you for your support, I will run for president".
The appearance was shown live on state television.
His popularity, control over the levers of power, and years of steps to suppress dissent and marginalize political opponents virtually ensure that he would win.
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.
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Opinion polls place him at around 80% meaning victory is all but guaranteed. Putin told factory workers. "I'm sure that everything will work out for us".
For months, Putin was fending off endless questions about his plans, fueling speculation about possible motives behind the delay. Several hours earlier, he was asked about his intentions in Moscow and signaled that he would run but stopped short of declaring his bid.
"The decision gives us the feeling of certainty about tomorrow", said Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament.
Veterans of past campaigns _ Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky _ all have declared their intention to run.
The Russian television journalist Ksenia Sobchak has confirmed she will stand for election as well, while the main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is now barred from standing after he was found guilty of embezzlement, a charge he claims was politically motivated.