(by Alexandra Odynova, CBS News) Moscow — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law on Monday a change to the country’s constitution that will allow him to run for two more six-year terms, granting himself the chance to remain in power until 2036. The Russian leader, 68, has already run the country for more than two decades, and with his recent crackdown on political opponents and civil society, he has made it clear that there’s little room for dissent.
A copy of the new law was posted on the government’s legal information website on Monday, confirming that the legislation — the success of which was really never in doubt — had been finalized. Prior to the new law, Putin would have been required to step down after his fourth and current term in 2024.
But in March last year, lawmaker Valentina Tereshkova, a lawmaker from Putin’s ruling party, proposed the constitutional change during a discussion in the State Duma (congress). After Tereshkova, who is a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to go to space, suggested the amendment, Putin himself showed up in the parliament building and offered his backing for the idea, undermining earlier speculation that he might seek to maintain power by taking another role.
“In principle, this option would be possible, but on one condition,” Putin told lawmakers in a televised speech a year ago. “If the constitutional court gives an official ruling that such an amendment would not contradict the principles and main provisions of the constitution.”
Putin said then 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.
In July last year, Russians were given the opportunity to vote on a raft of constitutional reforms, including the change to the limit on presidential terms. Other measures included a proposed ban on same-sex marriages, new language mentioning for the first time the importance of “faith in God,” and measures meant to protect “traditional family values” and forbidding top officials from holding dual citizenship.
Russians could either vote for or against the whole package of changes, but there was little doubt even as ballots were cast about the outcome. The vote was seen widely as an effort to demonstrate Putin’s broad support in the country.
Political opposition leader and outspoken Putin critic Alexey Navalny, who’s currently on hunger strike as he serves a 2-and-a-half-year prison sentence on charges he insists are politically motivated, criticized the vote last summer as a populist spectacle designed to give the Russian leader the right to be “president for life.”
Putin often defends the political regime he’s ushered in by arguing that Russia has seen enough turbulence in the past, and his strong leadership has brought stability. The constitutional amendments, including giving him the chance to remain president, were necessary to ensure that stability continues, he’s argued, by avoiding the distraction of a hunt for a successor from among Russia’s political elite.
“I know that in two years, instead of working normally at all levels of the state, all eyes will be on the search for potential successors,” Putin said in an interview with state-run television last year. “We must work and not look for successors.”
He’s said at the time that he might consider running for a fifth term, but insisted that he hadn’t yet made a final decision.
CBSNews.com’s Tucker Reals contributed to this report.
Published at cbsnews .com on April 5. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission.
NOTE: Before answering the following questions, watch the video under “Resources” below.
1. List the who, what, where and when of the news item.
2. For how long has President Vladimir Putin ruled Russia? Please explain.
3. What type of leader is Putin?
4. What did President Putin say when first discussing the proposed bill that would allow him only to run for office two more times?
5. What is your reaction to Putin’s power grab?
CHALLENGE: Research two or more of the following for an idea of President Putin’s behavior:
a) Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine
b) Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia
c) Outspoken Putin critic Alexey Navalny
d) Russia invades and takes control of Ukraine’s Crimea
- Vladimir Putin (born in 1952) was the second president of Russia.
- Putin was an officer in the KGB (Russian secret police) from 1975-1992.
- Putin became acting president on December 31, 1999, when President Boris Yeltsin resigned.
- Putin won the 2000 presidential election and in 2004 he was re-elected for a second term lasting until May 7, 2008.
- Due to constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term.
- After the victory of his [hand-picked] successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in the 2008 presidential elections, he was nominated by the latter to be Russia’s Prime Minister; Putin took the post on May 8, 2008. (from wikipedia)
- In December 2008, President Medvedev signed a law extending the presidential term from four years to six.
- Medvedev also signed a law extending the term of members of the lower house of parliament, the Duma, from four years to five.
- Prime Minister Putin accepted his party’s nomination to run for president in the March 2012 elections, while the current president, Dmitry Medvedev, agreed to be the party’s top parliamentary candidate [candidate for Prime Minister].
- Mr. Medvedev took over as prime minister after the presidential election in March 2012, in what is effectively a job swap with Mr Putin. (from bbc.co.uk)
- Putin’s second 6-year term is up in 2024. The law he just signed in April 2021 will allow him to run for two more 6-year terms, but limits any other presidential candidates to two 6-year terms total.
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