Brussels (Brussels Morning) Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed legislation that will change the country’s constitution and allow him to run for two more six-year presidential terms. The law, which he signed on 5 April, will enable him, if successful at the polls, to remain in power until 2036, when he will be 83 years old.
An announcement was published on the government’s legal information website, confirming that the law had been finalised.
Last June, when called on to vote in a referendum on constitutional changes, an overwhelming majority of Russians voted for amendments that could enable Putin to extend his time in office until 2036.
Nearly 78% of voters participating favored the constitutional changes. Turnout was 68% in the week-long balloting that ended on 1 July.
While the Russian opposition denounced the referendum, claiming it had been conducted in a dubious manner, the Kremlin declared the result a “triumph” and an outcome that demonstrated the public’s trust in Putin.
The initiative was first broached in March 2020, when Russian lawmaker Valentina Tereshkova, a member of Putin’s ruling United Russia (Yedinaya Rossiya) party, proposed the move to change the constitutional provisions in the Duma, the Russian congress.
At the time, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission criticised the proposed constitutional amendments, including the resetting of presidential terms, as “beyond what is appropriate”, noting that it had “disproportionately strengthened the position (of the president)”, RT reported.
Two decades of power
Putin served two consecutive presidential four-year terms from 2000 to 2008. He stepped down in 2008 because, under terms of the prevailing 1993 constitution, he was not eligible to run for a third consecutive term.
However, he then served as Prime Minister from 2008 until 2012, before being re-elected as President in 2012 and again in 2018.
“They really think that if they managed to deceive human laws, then they will be able to deceive the laws of nature,” opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman wrote on Twitter.