Russian President Vladimir Putin, 68, reaffirmed his will to keep power for life by saying he will run for the 2024 presidency if voters approve constitutional changes through a referendum on July 1. He justified his decision by saying it is to avoid confusion resulting from him becoming a lame duck. The Kremlin is handing out prizes, including apartments, cars, and smartphones to encourage voting. When asked about the possibility of running for another presidential term during an interview with the Russia-1 TV on Sunday, Putin said he is not ruling out the possibility of running for office if constitutional changes are approved by voters. “I can tell you from my own experience that in about two years, instead of the regular rhythmic work on many levels of government, you’d have eyes shifting around hunting for possible successors,” said Putin. “It’s necessary to work, not look for successors,” added Putin, suggesting that constitutional changes are needed to avoid endangering state affairs.
Putin’s term ends in 2024 since the Russian constitution limits the election of one person to the presidency to three consecutive terms. If the constitution is changed, Putin will be able to run for the 2024 presidency and seek two more six-year terms. This is practically keeping power for life as he will be able to be in power until 2036 when he becomes 84.
According to The Washington Post (WP), the Kremlin is putting public officials and employees at state-run enterprises under pressure aside from handing out prizes. Some public officials, teachers, and employees at state-run enterprises are reportedly told to submit proof of voter registration.
Some experts say that the Putin administration’s pushing ahead with a national vote is a testament to its insecurity. Russia’s GDP growth this year is expected to record negative 6% due to factors, such as fatigue resulting from Putin’s 20-year reign, concerns about the second wave of COVID-19, and low oil prices. Putin’s approval rating last month hit a historic low of 59%.
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