Could Vladimir Putin remain in office as president for another consecutive term? Russian law and the constitution forbids it, but some interesting things were suggested at Putin’s annual end of year Q&A with journalists.
Given he was re-elected in March 2018 and inaugurated in May to a six-year term, Putin is set to leave office in 2024, but on Thursday he said the following:
“One thing that could be changed about these (presidential) terms is removing the clause about ‘successive’ (terms). Your humble servant served two terms consecutively, then left his post and had the constitutional right to return to the post of president, because these were not two successive terms,” he said.
“(This clause) troubles some of our political analysts and public figures. Well, maybe it could be removed.”
“It’s only possible to do this (changes) after thorough preparation and a deep discussion in society. You’d need to be very careful,” he added.
lt’s not the first time Kremlin officials have batted the idea around, but it is the first time the Russian leader himself explicitly talked about the possibility of amending or removing the key consecutive term limit clause.
In the aftermath of the controversial statement, there was back-and-forth among pundits over just what was meant by the perhaps intentionally ambiguous remarks.
As The Independent explains:
The remarks, which were made in the course of his traditional annual press conference, seemed to be deliberately ambiguous. They could be interpreted in one of two ways: either removing the clause, or removing the consecutive part, and therefore potentially standing down in 2024.
Margarita Simonyan, the uber-loyal editor of Kremlin-funded RT, said the comments should be interpreted as a signal that the president would not be seeking re-election. “If anyone doubted whether the Boss was going for another presidential term… he won’t.”
However, it certainly raised eyebrows especially in Western press, which generally interpreted his words as hinting he’s ready to slyly pursue and find ways around the prohibition between now and the end of his term.
The 67-year old leader is serving his fourth presidential term (and second consecutive term after previously being prime minister and then president before that). The current constitution prevents anyone for serving more than two consecutive terms.
If he were to actually remain for a fifth, he would be Russia’s leader through 2030.