Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that will allow him to stay in power until 2036, formalizing constitutional reforms that were approved in a referendum last year.
Putin’s prior term limits were reset in the July 1 constitutional referendum, enabling him to run for president two more times. The reform was approved by the Kremlin-controlled legislature, and the related legislation, signed by Putin, was posted on an official legal information portal on Monday, local time.
The 68-year-old Russian president, who has been in power for more than two decades – longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin – said he will consider running again in 2024 when his current six-year term expires.
He has argued that resetting the term count was necessary to keep his lieutenants focused on their work instead of “darting their eyes in search for possible successors”.
The constitutional amendments also emphasised the primacy of Russian law over international norms, outlawed same-sex marriages and mentioned “a belief in God” as a core value. Nearly 78 per cent of voters approved the constitutional amendments during the balloting that lasted for a week and concluded on July 1. Turnout was 68 per cent.
Following the vote, Russian lawmakers went about changing the national legislation one by one, passing the required legislation.
The opposition slammed the constitutional referendum, claiming that it was marred by widespread allegations of voter intimidation and other irregularities, as well as a lack of accountability and barriers to impartial oversight.
In the months since the vote, Russia has imprisoned the country’s most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny.
The 44-year-old Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.
In February, Navalny was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated – and which the European Сourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful.