Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law allowing him to potentially hold onto power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in last year’s popular vote.
The July 1 constitutional vote included a provision that reset Putin’s previous terms, allowing him to run for president two more times.
The change was rubber-stamped by the Kremlin-controlled legislature and the relevant law signed by Putin was posted Monday on an official portal of legal information.
The 68-year-old Russian president, who has been in power for more than two decades – longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet leader Josef Stalin – said he would decide later whether to run again in 2024 when his current six-year term ends.
Putin has argued that resetting the term count was necessary to keep his lieutenants from ‘darting their eyes in search for possible successors’ instead of normal work.’
The constitutional amendments also emphasized the priority of Russian law over international norms, outlawed same-sex marriages and mentioned ‘a belief in God’ as a core value.
Putin was due to be term-limited out of office in 2024 but last year won public backing to amend Russia’s constitution and pave the way for two more terms. Putin:
- Won his first presidential election in 2000 taking over as acting president when Boris Yeltsin resigned on the final day of the 20th century.
- Won another term in 2004, before moving to the prime minister’s office in 2008 while Dmitry Medvedev held the fort as president.
- Swapped jobs with Medvedev in 2012, with Putin returning to the presidency for a six-year term.
- Won the fourth term in 2018.
After years of speculation about how Putin might get around the ‘2024 problem’, lawmakers proposed last year that his personal term-limit clock be reset to zero.
The proposal was put to a referendum in a package of measures alongside populist economic reforms and socially conservative gestures backed by the Kremlin and Putin won the referendum by nearly 78 per cent voted in favour.
However, according to Golos, an independent election monitor, there were hundreds of complaints of violations including people voting more than once and allegations that employers had pressured their staff to vote.
Kremlin opponents criticised the initiative at the time, calling it a pretext to allow Putin to become “president for life.”