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Putin makes 2018 Russian presidential bid official

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By Euronews
Putin makes 2018 Russian presidential bid official
Copyright  REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

Russia's ruling United Russia party has held a congress in the 16th year of its existence, during which it has only ever known one leader, President Vladimir Putin.

In a move that seems designed to ensure the master of the Kremlin remains in place until 2024, the party has decided to back a Putin re-election campaign, but only if he stands as an independent candidate, a candidate for all Russians the reasoning goes, in March 2018.

It may also mean that Putin will be decoupled in some voters' minds from the party's mistakes, too, so that even if United Russia does poorly, Putin will sail above the party political fray.

The opposition still looks disjointed and incapable of mounting an effective campaign, with rival presidential bids splitting the opposition vote and it's highest profile champion, Alexei Navalny, barred from running.