Vladimir Putin has signed legislation allowing him to run for president twice more in his lifetime, potentially extending his tenure until 2036. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the legislation, completing a year-long process to “reset” his presidential terms by rewriting the constitution in a referendum-like process that his critics have called a crude power grab. Putin has been Russia’s most powerful politician since taking office in 2000, following the resignation of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.
Putin’s stay in power until 2036, would result in him serving longer than Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union for 29 years, making Putin the longest-serving Moscow leader since the Russian empire. Officially, the new law restricts Russian citizens to two presidential terms in their lifetime, making the kind of juggling between the presidency and the role of prime minister that Putin used earlier in his career illegal. However, the law expressly states that terms served prior to the law’s implementation do not count, which means that Putin’s previous four terms (including the current term) do not count and he can still serve two more. According to Russians, he has “zeroed out” his terms.
According to analysts, the law may not indicate that Putin wishes to remain president, but rather that he wishes to avoid being a lame duck and provoking a power struggle during his final term in office. Putin, on the other hand, has made a habit of staying in power even when he could have stepped down and anointed a successor. Some believe he hasn’t found a way to transfer power and ensure his and his family’s safety in retirement. In addition, the new law grants him and former President Dmitry Medvedev lifetime immunity from prosecution.
Due to term limits, Putin assumed the post of prime minister in 2008 after serving his first two terms in office but remained the country’s de facto leader. He re-assumed the presidency in 2012, sparking protests from critics on both the left and right that were violently suppressed. The presidential term has also been extended to six years. Putin’s current term ends in 2024.