Vladimir Putin has no plans to give up power. The New York Times reports that he’s orchestrating a change in the two-term limit for the Russian presidency.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Tuesday that he would support legislation that would allow him to run for a fifth term as president in 2024.
The proposal, unexpectedly floated by a lawmaker at a session of Russia’s lower house of Parliament on Tuesday, would allow Mr. Putin — who is 67 years old and was first elected president in 2000 — to remain in power until at least 2036.
After lawmakers voiced support for the idea, Mr. Putin arrived in person at the State Duma to say he agreed with it, in what appeared to be a tightly choreographed course of events. Mr. Putin said he believed he should have the right to run again for the sake of Russia’s stability, even though future presidents should continue to be bound by a two-term limit.
It appeared that under the proposal endorsed by Mr. Putin, the limit of two six-year terms would be reset for him if he were to run again when his current term ends in 2024.
This is a more aggressive version of what he did the last time. After he served as president from May 2000 to May 2008, the Russian constitution required him to step down. His solution was to put more power in the position of prime minister and then serve in that capacity instead. After four years as prime minister, he ran for president again in 2012. By that time, he’d arranged it so future presidential terms would be six years long. He’s been the Russian president ever since.
Now he’s carving out an exemption to the two-consecutive term limit that will apply only to himself. Naturally, he’s saying he needs to retain his eligibility because Russia needs “stability.” That pretty much tells you that he doesn’t intend to risk a free and fair election. The whole point is that Russia needs him to stay exactly where he is.
Putin will turn 70 years old in 2022, so it looks like he plans to remain in power at least until he’s 84. I don’t think he’s vital to Russia’s future prospects. I think he’s a thief who has amassed a vast personal fortune and has destroyed Russia’s democracy and any semblance of the rule of law. The country is essentially a massive crime syndicate run by intelligence officers and gangsters, and they’re threatening and occupying their neighbors while using their nuclear stockpile to avoid any real accountability.
Trump seems to like him though, so I guess everything will be fine.