Constitutional changes allowing Vladimir Putin to endure president again in 2024 sailed through both houses of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday, raising the prospect he could log up over three decades within the Kremlin.
FILE PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the lower house of parliament to think about constitutional changes in Moscow, Russia March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
Putin, 67, who has dominated Russia’s political landscape for 2 decades as either president or prime minister, made a dramatic appearance within the lower chamber every day earlier to argue that term limits were shorter in times of crisis.
A former KGB officer, Putin is currently required by the constitution to step down in 2024 when his second sequential and fourth presidency ends. But the amendment which he backed would formally reset his own presidency tally to zero. Successors would face a two-term limit however.
The 450-seat State Duma, the lower house of parliament, on Wednesday backed the term reset for Putin, together with other amendments to the constitution, by 383 votes, in a very final reading. Nobody voted against.
Hours later, the 170-seat Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, gave its approval by 160 votes to 1.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich must have the proper to run in new competitive nationwide elections,” said Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house, calling the amendment timely.
“Whether he exercises this right in 2024 or not is after all up to him, but he must have the proper… We must recognize what was done by Vladimir Vladimirovoch Putin for the country’s development within the last 20 years. He has raised the country from its knees.”
If, as Putin critics expect, regional parliaments and also the constitutional court now give their blessing and also the overall changes are backed in a very nationwide take April, Putin would have the legal choice to run again for president in 2024.
Were he to try and do that, and his health and electoral fortunes allowed, he could potentially stay in office for one more two back-to-back six-year terms until 2036 at which point he would be 83 and have spent 36 years at the highest of Russian politics.
Such a scenario would see him wield power longer than Soviet leader Josef Stalin, but still leave him well wanting Tsar Peter the good, who reigned for 43 years.
PRESIDENT FOR LIFE?
Opposition activists have said they arrange to organize protests as early as Friday. Their plans are complicated however by an order from Moscow’s government which has banned public gatherings of quite 5,000 people until April 10 because of coronavirus-related risks.
Putin remains fashionable many Russians, who see him as a welcome source of stability, whilst others complain that he has been in power for too long.
Two people staged lone pickets outside the State Duma on Wednesday. one in all them Gleb Tumanov, 31, said he was a member of the Yabloko party, and held a banner calling the move “an usurpation of power.”
“I’m here due to Vladimir Putin’s desire to remain for a fifth term or maybe maybe a sixth,” said Tumanov.
“It just feels sad. And harking back to the USSR. I didn’t spend pretty much time living within the USSR obviously but neither do i’ve got any desire to try and do so.”
Kremlin critic and opposition politician Alexei Navalny has said he believed Putin was trying to become president for all times.
Putin has not spelled out his plans after 2024, but has said he doesn’t favor the Soviet-era practice of leaders remaining in situ until they die.
Putin in January unveiled a significant shake-up of Russian politics and a constitutional overhaul, which the Kremlin billed as a redistribution of power from the presidency to parliament.
Slideshow (5 Images)
But Putin’s critics say the reform was merely a smoke screen to grant the country’s ruling elite the way to stay Putin in power after 2024.
Opposition politician and former lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov said on Wednesday he thought the changes had dealt a mortal blow to the country’s constitution.
“Russia has lost its constitution, which didn’t work anyway,” Gudkov wrote on social media. “The fig leaf has fallen off the regime and that we can see who clothed to be beneath it.”