Russian President Vladimir Putin made a shocking career announcement on Friday that could shake up the world’s political outlook for years to come.
Putin took questions from a group of students at the Sirius Educational Centre in Sochi and one of his replies indicated that he could consider being in power for life, the Washington Examiner reported.
When asked what he would do after he left the presidency, Putin said, “I have not yet decided yet whether I will leave the post of the president or not. Only after I answer this question for myself will I think about my next step.”
“There are a lot of interesting things to do in the world. This is not to say that I should sit and only write memoirs,” Putin continued, according to a Kremlin news website transcription of the event in Sochi.
Putin has led the Russian government since 1999. He served two terms as president from 2000 to 2008 and returned again in 2012. He will be up for re-election in 2018.
The Russian presidency is now a six-year term and under the constitution, no president may serve more than two consecutive terms. However, the constitution contains no provision for whether a president can serve more than two terms if they are not consecutive. Assuming he wins re-election in 2018, Putin could remain in office until 2020, then step down officially but remain in politics much as he did from 2008 to 2012, when he was officially prime minister of Russia.
So, while technically Putin could not be president for life, he could stay in actual power indefinitely, moving in and out of the presidential office as he sees fit and the constitution requires, but retaining control in all meaningful senses of the word.
Keeping the actual title of “president,” would require changing the constitution, and Putin seemed to rule out that possibility on Friday.
“I had an opportunity, they even asked me to change the constitution. But I didn’t do it, and I don’t intend to do it in the future,” he said.
Putin then said he was considering “many” options he could pursue after his presidency, saying there were “a lot of interesting things to do in the world.”
Which could mean just about anything.
While there seems to be a trend of supporting Putin in certain circles, it is important to remember that Putin has expressed a desire to restore Russia to its status as a superpower and global rival of the United States. For Putin’s entire time in power, he has worked to regain the global presence Russia had during the years of the Soviet Union.
A strong, aggressive Russia raises a threat to United States security, United States allies, and United States values. No matter what his title, Putin remaining at the helm until death calls him — he’s only 64 — would be nothing to cheer about.
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