Will Vladimir Putin appoint himself Russian President for Life? Some would say that by remaining in tight control of Russia’s politics for the past 14 years — even during the period from 2008 to 2012 when he served as Prime Minister — he already has. But in a wide ranging interview with the Russian news agency TASS, Putin promises to step down from the office.
In 2024. And even then, he added, “we will see.”
Putin comes up for re-election in 2018 and said in the TASS interview that he has not yet decided whether he will run for re-election that year. The decision, he said, will depend on his “personal feelings,” as well as on “the general context” and “domestic understanding.”
But most observers have difficulty imagining that Putin will voluntarily cede his office in the Kremlin. And given that Putin won the 2012 election with almost 64 percent of the vote — his nearest competitor in a field of five was the Communist Party candidate with just 17 percent — Putin would appear to be assured of victory if his “personal feelings” permit him to run again.
With Russia having extended its presidential terms from four to six years, a fourth term as Russian president would take Putin through to 2024. At that point, he says, he’s done, because Russian constitution limits the country’s president to two terms.
But even then, Putin left the door open to the possibility that he would continue in office.
“I believe it is important to observe requirements stipulated by the supreme law,” Putin said. “We will see what the situation will be like, but in any case the term of my work is restricted by the Constitution.”
Asked by interviewer Andrei Vandenko if he has already achieved everything he ever dreamed of, making the office of president less interesting to him, Putin again gave a coy response.
“Clutching at something is counterproductive, detrimental and in no way interesting,” he said. “There is the Constitution and it is necessary to act and live within its framework. Yes, there is a possibility of my nomination for a new term. But I don’t know for the moment if it will be realized.”
Vandenko also asked Putin if he would consider declaring himself Russian czar, that is, king. But Putin demurred on that count as well.
“Fortunately or unfortunately — and let’s stay away from assessments now — we’re past that stage,” said Putin “We’ve closed the monarchic chapter of our history.”
The last Russian czar, Nicholas II, was deposed in 1917 by the Russian Communist Revolution and executed a year later. While Putin, who will be 72 years old in 2024, may not have entirely ruled out naming himself Russian President for Life, at least he appears to have definitely closed the door on crowning himself king.