His strongest rival, the anti-corruption crusader Aleksei Navalny, has been barred from running because of a series of criminal cases that he says are politically motivated. Mr. Navalny has established more than 80 campaign offices across Russia in an effort to force the government to let him register, but analysts consider that highly unlikely because Mr. Putin knows that Mr. Navalny would try to use the race to embarrass him over issues like corruption.
A recent entry into the race, Ksenia Sobchak, a journalist and celebrity reality show host, is running for president with what many consider at least the tacit approval of the Kremlin, to divide the opposition vote.
The rest of the field is dominated by political war horses like the Communist Party candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, who have been around for decades, and novices often plugging a particular cause.
The hurdles to establishing a candidacy are high, with opposition figures getting little access to television coverage. Add to that numerous technical hurdles, including the requirement that independent candidates collect hundreds of thousands of signatures of endorsement from members of the public during an abbreviated, three-month campaign.
Mr. Putin has been the leader of Russia since 2000, when President Boris Yeltsin anointed him as his successor. Term limits forced Mr. Putin to become prime minister in 2008, but he took back his old job in 2012 in a maneuver that prompted mass street demonstrations.
The Kremlin has tried to retain a tight control over all aspects of public life since then to prevent a repeat of those protests, which Mr. Putin has often said were inspired by the United States generally and Hillary Clinton in particular.