Russian parliament begins paving way for Putin to run for president again

Russia’s ruling United Russia party said on Tuesday it would back a constitutional amendment that would allow President Vladimir Putin to run again, the RIA news agency reported, a prospect Putin has previously played down.

Putin, who in January unveiled a major shakeup of Russian politics and a constitutional overhaul, is required by the constitution to step down in 2024 when his second sequential presidential term ends. But a United Russia lawmaker proposed earlier on Tuesday amending the constitution in a way that would reset Putin’s presidential term count back to zero.

A series of constitutional amendments will go to a nationwide vote on April 22.

A former KGB officer, Putin, 67, has served four presidential terms in total and also done a stint as prime minister, dominating the Russian political landscape for two decades.

Critics have accused him of plotting to use changes to the constitution to extend his rule beyond 2024. Putin has not spelled out what his plans are after that date, but has said he does not favour the Soviet-era practice of having leaders for life who die in office.

In this handout photo provided by the State Duma, the world’s first woman cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, speaks during a session prior to voting for constitutional amendments. Tereshkova, a lawmaker with Russia’s ruling party, proposed Tuesday to scrap presidential term limits. (State Duma via The Associated Press)

Putin told parliament in televised comments he believed a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for president again could be adopted if Russia’s Constitutional Court did not object.

“In principle, this option would be possible, but on one condition — if the constitutional court gives an official ruling that such an amendment would not contradict the principles and main provisions of the constitution,” Putin said.

Valentina Tereshkova, a United Russia lawmaker, told parliament she was proposing amending the constitution in a way that would reset Putin’s presidential term count back to zero.

The move, if adopted, would allow him to serve another two back-to-back, six -year terms.

Sergei Neverov, a lawmaker and senior United Russia official, said the party would “no doubt support” such an idea, but it would have to be discussed with Putin as well as parliament’s leaders.

Another ruling party lawmaker on Tuesday proposed holding snap parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for September 2021, once the constitutional reform is out of the way.

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