Russia Approves Bill Allowing Putin To Stay In Power For 12 More Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin – File Pic

MOSCOW – The Russian parlia­ment approved a sweeping con­stitutional reform in the third and final reading Wednesday, a move that will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in pow­er for another 12 years after his current term ends in 2024.

The Kremlin-controlled lower house, the State Duma, endorsed a set of amendments to the constitu­tion and a provision resetting the term count for Putin after the re­vised constitution goes into force by a 383-0 vote with 43 abstentions. A nationwide vote on the proposed amendments is set for April 22.

Kremlin critics condemned the move as a cynical manipula­tion and called for protests.

Putin, a 67-year-old former KGB officer, has ruled Russia for more than 20 years. After serv­ing for two consecutive four-year terms — a limit outlined in the current version of the constitu­tion — Putin shifted to prime min­ister’s seat in 2008, with his close ally Dmitry Medvedev becoming a placeholder president.

The length of the presidency was extended to six years under Medvedev, and in 2012 Putin re­turned to the Kremlin as president. In 2018, he was re-elected for an­other six years.

The constitutional reform passed by the Duma on Wednes­day would allow Putin to run for presidency two more times after 2024. Ahead of the national vote, it will be reviewed by Russia’s Con­stitutional Court.

The changes redistribute the executive powers of the Russian government in Moscow and fur­ther strengthen the power of the presidency, while also banning same-sex marriage and listing “a belief in God” as one of Russia’s traditional values. The proposal to restart the term clock for the cur­rent president was put forward by 83-year-old former Soviet cosmo­naut Valentina Tereshkova, now a Duma deputy, during the second reading of the amendments on Tuesday. Following Tereshkova’s speech, Putin quickly arrived at parliament to address the law­makers and supported the idea.

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