Russia’s Federation Council has approved a proposal to conduct the next presidential election on March 18, 2018, state-run news agency Tass reported on Friday. President Vladimir Putin announced his decision to contest the election for a fourth term.

At least 23 people have declared their willingness to contest the election, Russian Central Election Commission chief Ella Pamfilova said, according to Tass.

Putin has been at the helm since 2000. He served two presidential terms before taking on the role of prime minister because of restrictions imposed by the Russian constitution. Critics alleged that he continued to remain in charge with his ally Dmitry Medvedev serving as a puppet president, AP reported.