'I will run': Putin joins 2018 Russian presidential race
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Putin does Russia 'a favour'
Vladimir Putin isn't ready to give up power.
After playing coy for weeks about whether he intends to seek another term as Russia's president, the 65-year-old officially threw his hat into the ring today.
Appearing at the historic GAZ automotive plant in Nizhny Novgorod, 400 kilometres east of Moscow, Putin took a question about his plans from a worker who begged him to "do us a favour" and declare his candidacy.
"I can't think of a better time or place to announce it — thank you for your support — I will run for the post of president of the Russian Federation,"' Putin responded, triggering loud cheers and chants of "GAZ is behind you!"
No one really expected Putin, who has effectively been running Russia since 1999, to step down. But the president seemed to be enjoying the fuss around his future.
The election is expected to be held March 18. And the chances of anyone but Putin winning it seem slim.
Opinion polling — always a bit of a mug's game — is even less reliable in Russia, but the independent Levada Center found in its latest survey that 66 per cent of likely voters will back Putin. More notable, however, were its figures for his likely opponents, nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and reformer Alexei Navalny, polling at 3 and 2 per cent, respectively.
The bigger question might be Putin's motivation. Perhaps it's bragging rights: he is currently the second-longest-serving leader of modern Russia, behind Joseph Stalin.
Today in Moscow he spoke about "improving the lives" of ordinary Russians.
But there are other possibilities.
Putin has become very wealthy during his 18-plus years in power.
He reportedly has large interests in Russian oil and gas companies, as well as a healthy stake in a commodities firm that booked $93 billion US in revenue in 2012.
Some guess that Putin could be worth as much as $200 billion.
To put that in perspective, Bill Gates — the world's richest man, according to Forbes — has a net worth of $86 billion. (The magazine says it doesn't have hard information to estimate Putin's wealth.)
But even the 'modest' 2007 figure would put the Russian president among the top-10 richest people in the world.
Trump takes on Jerusalem
Donald Trump has said he wants to bring peace to the Middle East, but this week he seems bent on creating chaos.
The U.S. president has served notice that he intends to honour a campaign promise and move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
For while moving the embassy would be popular with many Israel backers and the Christian right in the U.S., it would also be a highly provocative — and potentially dangerous — move.
Jerusalem has been occupied territory since Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War, and annexed it in 1980, a claim not recognized internationally.
Any actual move of the U.S. Embassy would be months away, but reaction to Trump's declaration has been swift and mostly unhappy.
HAMAS declares Friday a DAY OF RAGE to protest Trump's intention to move US embassy to Jerusalem and calls for confrontations with Israel after Friday prayers.—@KhaledAbuToameh
Large demonstrations are anticipated, and the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem has ordered staff and their families to stay away from Old Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the Arab League and the leaders of 57 Muslim countrieshave all registered their intense disapproval.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia, informed personally by Trump in a phone call, did not mince words. "Such a dangerous step is likely to inflame the passions of Muslims around the world due to the great status of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque," he told the president, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Pope Francis called for "wisdom and prudence," and said he has "deep worry" about the decision.
And Trump's choice is also unpopular with Western allies of the U.S.
And on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned that the decision might cause his country to "spell out where the limits" of its solidarity stand.
It all brings to mind a lesson delivered to a Canadian prime minister almost 40 years ago. Joe Clark promised to move the Canadian Embassy to Jerusalem during the 1979 election, and provoked an international crisis when he announced he intended to follow through just two days after taking office in June.
Clark found a way out, however, by asking former Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield to prepare a report on the issue.
Stanfield made an interim recommendation against the move that October, and the Clark government dropped the idea.
By the time the final report was delivered in early 1980, the government had fallen and another election was underway.
The position of the current Trudeau Liberals is that the Canadian Embassy will remain in Tel Aviv.
Canada's biggest disaster
The blast, the result of a collision between a Norwegian freighter and a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, levelled much of the port city.
Almost 550 buildings burned, 824 more collapsed and 1,249 others were wrecked beyond repair.
At least 2,000 people perished and 9,000 more were injured.
Check out this remarkable CBC 360-degree interactive which allows you to experience the explosion and its aftermath.
Quote of the moment
"He brought a piece of America into our national pantheon."
- French President Emmanuel Macron reacts to the death of rocker Johnny Hallyday, a.k.a. "France's Elvis," of cancer at age 74.
What the National is reading
- Newfoundland Premier wins injunction to block CBC story linked to murder trial. (CBC)
- Arrests along Mexican border fall to lowest levels in decades under Trump. (Washington Post)
- Hungary member of European Parliament charged with spying for Russia. (Deutsche Welle)
- Bangladesh will relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to a flood-prone island. (CNN)
- Snacking on bitter apricot kernels? You risk cyanide poisoning, warns Health Canada. (CBC)
- Brain abnormalities found in victim of U.S. embassy attacks in Cuba. (Guardian)
Today in history
Dec. 6, 1956: Lorne Greene on holiday driving hazards.
"Yes, most everybody takes a holiday. Everybody but death," says CBC's holly, jolly Voice of Doom.