Who is Vladimir Putin? Find out how the Russian President became the country's dominant political figure.
Putin, whose current term ends in 2024, served two presidential terms in 2000-2008, before shifting to the Russian prime minister’s office while protégé Dmitry Medvedev served as a placeholder president.
He reclaimed the presidency in 2012 and won another election in 2018. He would need to step down in four years after having two consecutive terms – according to the current constitution.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a session prior to voting for constitutional amendments at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 10, 2020.(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
But lawmakers in the Kremlin-controlled State Duma are considering a proposal submitted this week to amend the constitution and basically allow “resetting to zero” the number of presidential terms.
“I propose to either lift the presidential term limit or add a clause that after the revised constitution enters force, the incumbent president, just like any other citizen, has the right to seek the presidency,” lawmaker Valentina Tereshkova said to raucous applause.
Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to have flown in space and a lawmaker with Russia's ruling party, proposed Tuesday to scrap presidential term limits in order to allow Russia President Vladimir Putin to run for re-election in 2024. (The State Duma, The Federal Assembly of The Russian Federation via AP)
On Tuesday, Putin gave his support to the amendment put forward by Tereshkova, who as a Soviet cosmonaut in 1963 became the first woman to fly to space.
In a speech, the 67-year-old Putin, who is Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, spoke against scrapping presidential term limits altogether. But he backed the idea that if the constitution is revised, a two-term limit should only apply from 2024 on.
He said he is aware of public calls for him to stay on as president and emphasized that Russia needs stability above all.
“The president is a guarantor of security of our state, its internal stability and evolutionary development,” Putin said. “We have had enough revolutions.”
Then he said he supported Tereshkova's alternate proposal to restart the term count when the revamped constitution enters force.
Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, on the podium, speaks during a session prior to voting for constitutional amendments at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The sweeping reform is widely seen as part of the effort by Putin, who has has to step down in 2024 after having served the two consecutive terms that the country's constitution currently allows, to stay in on power. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
“As for the proposal to lift restrictions for any person, including the incumbent, to allow running in elections, this option is possible,” Putin said.
He added that the Constitutional Court would need to judge if the move would be legal, although the court's assent is all but guaranteed.
A series of constitutional amendments Putin proposed in January was widely seen by Kremlin foes as part of his efforts to stay in power. However, it wasn't clear until Tuesday how Putin could achieve that goal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he doesn't want to scrap presidential term limits or resort to other suggested ways of extending his rule, but otherwise, he kept mum about his plans. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Observers had speculated that Putin could use the changes to scrap term limits; move into the prime minister's seat with strengthened powers; or continue calling the shots as the head of the State Council.
The amendment, as well as others proposed, was approved by the Duma. A nationwide vote is set for April 22.