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Russian Duma passes president-for-life bill allowing Putin to stay on past 2024

New Europe - Elena Pavlovska

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday supported a constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek reelection in 2024 by restarting the term count.

If approved, the amendment would pave the way for him to stay in office until 2036. The change would reset his presidential term count, which means he could stand in the next two elections.

Lawmaker Valentina Tereshkova, who was also the first woman in space, suggested either scrapping Russia’s two-term limit for presidents or stopping the clock so the law wouldn’t apply to Putin’s time in office. Her proposal was endorsed by the lower house of parliament, known as the Duma, who voted 380-44 for the amendment.

In recent months, Putin has been secretive about the reforms he proposed, saying that they were intended to strengthen government bodies. He repeatedly said the changes would not be used to extend his current term in office.

A nationwide vote on the proposed amendments is set for 22 April. Changing the term limit and allowing him to run in the next election “would in principle be possible if citizens support this amendment in the vote on April 22, but under one condition, that the constitutional court rules that this amendment won’t violate the country’s main law, the constitution”, Putin said.

The opposition called for protests on 21 March. After the protest announcement, the authorities banned outdoor events with attendance of more than 5,000 until 10 April. They explained the measure was intended to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

“The country where the government doesn’t change for 20 years has no future”, a group of opposition activists said in a statement.

 

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