Putin approves legal changes in bid to stay in power until 2036

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SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MARCH 16: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his meeting with health workers at the Almazov Medical National Research Centre on March 16, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The 2018 Russian Presidential Elections will take place on March 18. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has opened the door to constitutional changes that would allow him to remain in power until 2036, but said he favored term limits once the country became politically “mature.”

Putin, 67, who in January unveiled a major shake-up of Russian politics and a constitutional overhaul, is required by the Constitution to step down in 2024 when his second sequential and fourth presidential term ends.

But addressing the State Duma on Tuesday, the lower house of parliament, he gave his qualified blessing to a proposed change to the Constitution that would formally reset his presidential term tally to zero.

“The proposal to remove restrictions for any person, including the incumbent president … 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.

He said U.S. President Franklin D Roosevelt serving four terms because of the upheaval his country was going through at the time was an example of why presidential term limits were sometimes superfluous.

“In conditions when a country is experiencing such shocks and difficulties, of course … stability is perhaps more important and must be a priority,” he said.

If the constitutional court gives its blessing to the amendment and it is backed in a nationwide vote in April, Putin could serve another two back-to-back six-year terms.

Were he to do that, and his health and electoral fortunes allowed, he could stay in office until 2036 at which point he would be 83.

A former KGB officer, Putin has dominated the Russian political landscape for two decades.

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