Russia's 2018 presidential elections are rapidly approaching and Vladimir Putin has some, at least nominal, competition. The election committee has registered eight total candidates for the the March 18 vote.
Why it matters, from Axios' Steve LeVine: This election won't be competitive, but it could be Putin's last and he needs a big finish to burnish his legacy as a modern-day czar. Putin depends on the support of the Russian people and is trying to put the uprising in 2012 behind him. In his current term, Putin has relied on the fumes of nationalism and xenophobia to buttress his popular support and put the relatively minor uprising in 2012 behind him. Expect him to pivot, possibly toward serious domestic challenges, ahead of his next, and possibly final, 6-year term.