Asked by the Kommersant newspaper whether the 2012 vote didn't bother him because he had already decided everything, Putin replied: No, it interests me like...I wanted to say like everyone, but in fact more than everyone else. But I don't want to make a fetish out of it.
Putin ruled as president from 2000 to 2008. A ban on a third consecutive term prevented him from running again two years ago, so he handed the presidency to his chosen successor Dmitry Medvedev but remains the country's paramount leader.
(Writing by Michael Stott, editing by Amie Ferris-Rotman)