Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he will run for reelection in 2018.
He made the announcement in a speech to workers at a vehicle factory in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod. "It's workers, scientists, engineers, designers, teachers and doctors", Putin said, adding that with the "active involvement" of its people, Russian Federation "can deal with any, even the most complex challenges it faces".
But despite a litany of mounting problems including corruption, poverty and poor healthcare, the 65-year-old leader enjoys approval ratings of some 80 percent. He added that "the motive behind [this very responsible decision] can be only the desire to make people's lives in our country better and make the country itself more powerful and protected".
"And this can be achieved only with people's trust and support".
Cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky addressed the audience via video link from the International Space Station. Putin then won a third term as president in 2012.
The demonstrations were sparked by a documentary fronted by top Putin critic Alexei Navalny.
Putin was president for two terms between 2000 and 2008, before paving way for his current prime minister Dimitry Medvedev who ruled for four years with Putin as PM. So far, he's served three terms as president and one term as prime minister.
Chechnya's regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, hailed the president's announcement, saying on Instagram that only Putin can "resist a massive shameless and unprecedented" pressure by the West.