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Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

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.

The challengers

PAVEL GRUDININ

  • The 57-year-old CEO of a formerly state-run produce farm is the Communist Party's pick for president. Grudinin has been publicly critical of Russia's political and economic structure, without openly criticizing Putin. His nomination has been seen as an attempt from the Communists to appeal to younger voters and lighten the harsh reputation of the party.

KSENIA SOBCHAK

  • Sobchak, 36, is a former reality TV star-turned news anchor with millions of social media followers. In an interview with NPR, she said that she knows she doesn't have a good chance at beating Putin and called the elections "kind of fake."

VLADIMIR ZHIRINOVSKY

  • Meet the man who said he won't believe claims that Russia meddled in the US election unless the US helps him win this election, according to RT. 71-year-old Vladimir Zhirinovsky is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party. He ran five times before but never received more than 10% of the vote.

GRIGORY YAVLINSKY

  • The 65-year-old liberal is running as a member of one of Russia's oldest parties, Yabloko. He's expressed his goal of fixing economic problems that have grown since the annexation of Crimea and calling for political freedoms, however critics say Yavlinsky lacks charisma.

BORIS TITOV

  • The 57-year-old businessman and first-time candidate has served as Putin's Business Ombudsman since 2012. Titov is the candidate for the Party of Growth. His platform focuses on creating a more favorable business environment.

SERGEI BABURIN

  • Baburin is a legal expert who is known for opposing the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since departing Russian politics in 2007, he has served as a rector for Moscow University and was nominated to run for president by a fringe nationalist party.

MAXIM SURAIKIN

  • A self-described "Leninist-Stalinist," the 39-year-old wants to revive the USSR, per the BBC. Suraikin represents the Communist for Russia party. He studied engineering and unsuccessfully ran for governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region.

Notable: Opposition leader and Putin critic Alexei Navalny, has been barred from running for president because of a criminal conviction that he and many of his supporters claim is politically motivated.

Go deeper

Neera Tanden withdraws nomination for Office of Management and Budget director

Neera Tanden testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Neera Tanden withdrew her name from nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget after several senators voiced opposition and concern about her qualifications and past combative tweets, President Biden announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tanden’s decision to pull her nomination marks Biden's first setback in filling out his Cabinet with a thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

3 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.

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