MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin declared on Saturday he was ready to return to the Russian presidency after current head of state Dmitry Medvedev announced he would bow to his mentor at March's election.
Ending months of speculation over which of them will be president, Medvedev proposed Putin, now prime minister, at a congress of the ruling United Russia party. Putin, widely regarded as the driving force in the country for the last 11 years, invited Medvedev to take his place as prime minister.
"It is a great honor for me," Putin said to loud cheers and applause from thousands of party members gathered in a Moscow sports stadium. "Thank you, I hope for your support."
Opinion polls show Putin is sure to be elected for a six-year term in the March presidential election, ushering in what critics say could be an era of stagnation in the world's biggest country.