Russian lawmakers on Wednesday approved legislation allowing President Vladimir Putin to serve for two additional terms, paving the way for him to stay in power until 2036.
Putin, already in power for more than 20 years, proposed the change as part of constitutional reforms that the Russians overwhelmingly supported in a vote last year.
They included populist economic measures and long-hallowed Kremlin conversational values, with one clause mentioning the country’s “faith in God” and another effectively banning same-sex marriage.
The bill approved by lawmakers on Wednesday allows Putin to run for president again after his current term expires in 2024.
The upper house of parliament is expected to review the legislation later this month and it is expected to be enacted later by Putin.
Opponents of the Kremlin criticized the move last year, calling it a pretext to allow Putin to become “president for life.”
He came to power as president in 2000 and served two consecutive four-year terms, giving way to ally Dmitry Medvedev for one term before returning to the Kremlin in 2012.
Last year’s referendum, held for more than a week in June / July as part of a move authorities say to limit the risk of voters spreading or catching coronavirus, saw close 78% vote in favor of reforms.
Golos, an independent election observer, said he had received hundreds of complaints of violations, including people voting more than once and saying employers were pressuring staff to vote.
© 2021 AFP