Proposed change could keep Putin in office until 2036

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Vladimir Putin has moved to cement his hold on power in Russian Federation beyond the middle of the decade, backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek another term and remain in power in Russian Federation.

"The proposal made by [United Russia lawmaker] Valentina Tereshkova to exclude the number of terms a president can serve from the constitution is understandable".

That would mean Putin, who is now on his final presidential term, would be able to run once again, effectively resolving the problem of how he might stay in power.

Putin, 67, who has dominated the Russian political landscape for two decades as either president or prime minister, made a dramatic appearance in the chamber a day earlier to argue that term limits were less important in times of crisis.

Putin, whose second consecutive presidential term runs out in 2024, has repeatedly commented on the importance of constitutional guarantees to "rotation in office", which he said was "important" for Russian Federation.

Earlier, State Duma deputy with the United Russia party of power, Alexander Karelin, said he would introduce an amendment on early parliamentary elections by the second reading of the bill on changing the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

First elected in 2000, Putin is now serving a second consecutive six-year term so would not have the right to run again.

"We have had enough of revolutions", Putin said in a rare address to the Duma on Tuesday.

The lower house passed the amendments with 383 votes.

Valentina Tereshkova member of Russia's lower house of parliament also known as the State Duma delivers a speech during a session to consider constitutional changes proposed by President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Russia
Proposed change could keep Putin in office until 2036

Putin spoke to lawmakers at the Kremlin-controlled State Dumaon Tuesday about what such a change would mean for the future of presidential power in Russian Federation.

"Putin has been in power for 20 years, and yet he is going to run for the first time", Navalny tweeted.

"Putin until 2036, it's just unthinkable", said Ilya Azar, a journalist and activist who organised Tuesday's protest. "The issue of Putin as a lame duck disappears", Ms Stanovaya said.

The proposal sparked a fierce backlash from critics, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who accused Putin of seeking to become "president for life". Soon after, Moscow City Hall announced banning outdoor events with attendance of more than 5,000 until April 10, saying it was part of precautionary steps to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Opposition activists said they planned to protest against what some called a rewriting of the constitution in the interests of the ruling elite.

"This is necessary for the dynamics of the country's development", Putin said.

One group said it had applied for permission to stage a demonstration on March 21.

Opposition politician and former lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov said on Wednesday he thought the changes had dealt a mortal blow to the country's constitution. The 2014 annexation of Crimea boosted his approval ratings, which have remained high despite economic troubles and sanctions from the West.

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