Russian election date set for March ’18

The decision was made by Russia's upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.Incumbent President Vladimir Putin, the heavy favorite to win, announced on Thursday during his annual press conference that he would seek re-election as an independent candidate — his fourth presidential bid — in order to gain the support of multiple political parties who "support" his views.He said his aim was for Russia to have a "competitive" and "balanced" political system but that it was not his responsibility to create his own opponents.Putin added Russia should be as competitive politically as it is economically. "I want this and I will strive for a balanced political system and that is impossible without competition in the political field," he said.Asked why Russia had no effective opposition figures, Putin said that most of current opposition figures were focusing on "making noise" rather than a genuine agenda that can benefit the nation and compete with those in power. Many young Russians don't remember the problems the nation faced in the 1990s and early 2000s, he added.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this article.

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