World Bulletin / News Desk
President Vladimir Putin on Saturday promised "victories" for Russia at a star-studded rally attended by tens of thousands of supporters ahead of a March 18 election he is all but certain to win.
"We want our country to be bright and looking to the future, for our children and grandchildren...we will do everything we can for them to be happy," he told the cheering crowd at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium.
"Nobody else will do this for us. And if we do this, the coming decade and the whole 21st century will be marked by our bright victories," he said.
"Together we are a team. Are we a team?" he asked the crowd, which replied, "Yes!".
Organisers said around 100,000 people were expected to turn out. An AFP journalist said the stadium was completely full for Putin's speech, which was to be followed by a concert by big-name Russian popstars.
Supporters held signs saying "I am for Putin", "Putin is our president" and "I'm voting for the future".
"I do not see another candidate who could be our commander in chief. He's the only one. Putin is our president," Oscar-winning director Nikita Mikhalkov said from the stage.
"Only with him can our country achieve cosmic successes," said cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky.
The event is the first rally in an otherwise lacklustre campaign for Putin, who has yet to produce a programme and has declined to take part in televised debates with seven other candidates.
None of the other contenders, including former socialite Ksenia Sobchak and millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, has more than eight percent support, according to official polls.
On Thursday Putin used a state of the nation address to set the course for a new arms race with WMoscowngton, boasting of a new generation of "invincible" Russian weapons developed in response to recent actions by the United States.
He also outlined Russia's priorities for the six years that would be his next term, focusing on reducing poverty and tackling environmental problems.
Despite campaign promises when Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after four years as prime minister, his last term was marked by a fall in living standards and Russia's international isolation.
Boosted by a slavish media and foreign military adventures such as the annexation of Crimea in 2014, his approval rating remains sky-high and official polls suggest he will take almost 70 percent of the vote.
The centerpiece of the budget signed by President Donald Trump is a $61-billion increase in defense spending, boosting funding for the government's biggest department to $700 billion.
US president says duties avoidable if new trade deal signed
Bombardier avoids 300 percent tariff on plane sale to Delta
Verified Facebook pages for Musk companies disappear after he is challenged about them on Twitter
What FETO did was to fight behind the scenes within Turkish military, police, and bureaucracy, a Fulbright researcher says
World Food Programme highlights link between hunger and conflict
55 terrorists neutralized, 20 caves, 42 shelters destroyed since operation launched in Hakurk, Kani Rash regions
Defense secretary remarks come after a meeting with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia at Pentagon
The latest crisis laying siege to the leading online social network has raised the specter that he has lost control of his creation and been naive about the unintended consequences of people sharing so much about themselves.
Lawmakers stared down a self-imposed deadline of midnight Friday, when federal funding was set to expire, and passed the mammoth package by a vote of 65-32, with hours to spare.
Allowing Peshmerga to vote twice in upcoming polls would violate Iraq’s national charter, Turkmen politician asserts
Case against Turkish President’s seven bodyguards over brawl in Washington was dismissed, says lawyer
Antonio Guterres says one in four people will live countries where lack of fresh water will be chronic or recurrent by 2050
Energy secretary says US should get ahead before Russia or China builds civil nuclear capability in the Kingdom
Negative impact on Chinese gowth would be greater if US expands tariffs and protectionist measures, rating agency warns
'We look forward to continuing our conversations' with Turkey, Heather Nauert says