• Putin foe Navalny announces 2018 Kremlin bid

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    MOSCOW: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday announced he would run for president in 2018 after a court victory allowed the outspoken Kremlin critic to be a candidate. In an email sent to supporters, the 40-year-old anti-corruption campaigner said: “Presidential polls will take place in our country in 2018 and I have decided to take part in them.” President Vladimir Putin has not yet confirmed his candidacy but is widely expected to stand in March 2018 for a fourth term. If he wins, he could rule until 2024, when he would turn 72. The Levada independent polling agency in November gave Putin an 86 percent approval rating. Navalny swept to prominence as a punchy orator at mass protests against Putin’s re-election in 2011 and 2012, with slogans such as “Putin is a thief!” Russia needs to hold elections that are competitive and have a “confrontation of ideas,” he said in a campaign video posted on YouTube. “Those in power have already been there 17 years and have stopped reacting to any criticism.” He vowed to tackle issues including unfair distribution of wealth, selective justice and costly participation in military conflicts, with a particular focus on Russia’s rampant corruption.

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