Vladimir Putin says he is ready to return to the Russian Presidency after being proposed for the job by current head of state Dmitry Medvedev.
Ending months of speculation about which man would stand, Medvedev urged a congress of the ruling United Russia party to back Putin’s candidacy.
And in a job swap, the man himself invited Medvedev to take his place as prime minister.
Putin thanked delegates for their positive reaction to the suggestion that he should run again for the presidency.
“I am deeply honoured,” he said, to rapturous applause.
Putin served two spells in the Kremlin from 2000 to 2008 but, constitutionally barred from a third successive term, he steered Medvedev into the job.
With United Russia all but certain to stay in power, opposition activists outside carried a wreath of flowers on Friday, symbolically burying their hopes that upcoming elections would be free and fair. The protest was broken up and the demonstrators arrested.