She’s the country’s first-ever Muslim presidential candidate.

Russia’s next presidential election is set to take place on March 18, and there’s a new addition to the list of those challenging the incumbent Vladimir Putin.

Prominent journalist Aina Gamzatova has announced that she’s running for president in a first for the country – Russia has never seen a Muslim presidential hopeful before.

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Gamzatova is editor-in-chief of Islam.ru, a Russian and English language news site that describes itself as an Islamic information portal. She’s running as an independent, rt.com reports. She’s also an author and philanthropist, the site continues.

 

As an independent, Gamzatova will need 300,000 signatures from supporters around the country. Candidates from parties outside parliament need 100,000 signatures, and those from parties inside parliament don’t need any, rt.com reports.

While that is a high mark to clear, Gamzatova is already making waves. The 46-year-old is from Dagestan, and is married to the republic’s mufti, Akhmad Abdulaev. Around 10-15 per cent of the Russian population follows Islam, making it the second biggest religion in the country.

And Gamzatova already has some high-profile support.

“Even if she loses, people will know that a girl in a hijab is not just a mother or a woman, but is also an educated, wise and respected woman,” Russian boxer Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov wrote of Gamzatova, Stepfeed reports.

Gamzatova hasn’t yet made her policy platform public, but various outlets have reported her opposition to extremism.

The March election will be Russia’s seventh. Putin is expected to win his second consecutive term following on from his 2012 victory, having also been president from 2000 to 2008.

In Russia, presidential terms are six years. No one can serve more than two consecutively.

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