Russia Resets Presidential Terms to Zero, Allowing Putin to Stay in Power Until 2036

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unexpectedly visited the State Duma (lower house of parliament) on Tuesday during the second reading of the presidential amendments to the Constitution, Vedomosti reported.

Addressing lawmakers, Putin said there would be no snap parliamentary elections and that “resetting” the number of presidential terms to zero was feasible, the business newspaper writes.

MP Valentina Tereshkova, who was the first woman to fly to space, proposed either lifting restrictions on the number of presidential terms or “resetting to zero” the incumbent president’s terms. A total of 380 lawmakers approved Tereshkova’s initiative, while 43 voted against it.

That gives Putin additional space and ensures that he retains political initiative, the paper quotes Dmitry Badovsky, chairman of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Research (ISEPR), as saying.

“The right to be elected does not mean the obligation to be elected. That will depend on the situation in the world and in Russia and on how the government branches will work in the coming years. However, the existence of this right will be a stabilizing and safety mechanism for the system amid its operation under new circumstances,” the analyst explained.

The decision on Putin’s nomination will be made closer to 2024, and Putin will not necessarily take that opportunity, says political scientist Yevgeny Minchenko.

“The ‘resetting to zero’ option seemed to be the easiest one, as well as most understandable and reliable. Moreover, sociologists say that this option enjoys the support of a sizeable part of the population,” he said.

On the other hand, Ilya Shablinsky, professor at the Higher School of Economics, believes there are legal problems related to that initiative. From the legal standpoint, enshrining the provision, which will effectively block the restriction on the number of presidential terms for 12 years, would be absurd, he said. “This amendment calls into question the role of the Constitution as such,” the expert stressed.