Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that he would support changes to the country's constitution that would allow him to run for another presidential term. The 67-year-old has been Russia's leader for over 20 years and is serving his fourth term as president. Under current legislation, he is required to step down when his term finishes in 2024.
A surprise amendment proposed by Valentina Tereshkova, a lawmaker with the ruling party, during a discussion in the State Duma would see Putin's term count reset to zero in Russia's amended constitution. Russian legislators are currently considering sweepingthat were proposed in January.
After Tereshkova, who is a Soviet astronaut and the first woman to go to space, suggested the amendment, Putin himself arrived at parliament and backed the idea, undermining earlier speculation that he might maintain power in Russia by taking another role.
"In principle, this option would be possible, but on one condition," Putin said to lawmakers in a televised speech. "If the constitutional court gives an official ruling that such an amendment would not contradict the principles and main provisions of the constitution."
Putin spoke out against scrapping presidential term limits completely, however, which had also been suggested by Tereshkova.
Putin said that the Russian president was "the guarantor of the country's security and domestic stability" and that the country should avoid political upheavals. "Russia has fulfilled its plan when it comes to revolutions," he said.
Shortly after Putin left, lawmakers voted in favor of the proposed amendment, which, if it's passed, would allow Putin to run for president again and potentially stay in the Kremlin until 2036.
"Putin has been in power for 20 year, but anyway will run for the first term," Putin's critic and opposition leader Alexei Navalny said in a tweet mocking the proposed changes. Navalny was barred from running as a candidate in the last presidential vote in 2018.
Opposition activists had already asked city authorities for permission to demonstrate against the new presidential term limits later this month.
The change will likely to become part of a series of constitutional amendments to go to a nationwide vote on 22 April.