(AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Although Putin departed the Kremlin in 2008 due to term limits and moved about 1.5 miles down the road to the prime minister's office, in a sense he never left at all.
He used Russia's state-controlled national TV channels to remain the country's pre-eminent political figure.
If he wins the March 4 election -- a near-certainty given his popularity and mastery of Russia's political system -- Putin will return to a presidency even more powerful than when he left. In 2012, the presidential term will be extended to six years from four. He would be eligible to serve two terms.
In nominating Putin, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister, the No. 2 government position.
Putin's return to the presidency would be unlikely to ease Russia's dispute with the United States over the building of a European missile-defense system and other issues. Economic pressures, however, could push Putin to pursue reforms aimed at attracting more foreign investment, analysts said.