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Putin does not rule out possibility of running for new presidential term

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily | Updated: 2020-06-23 10:09
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea on March 18, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that he does not "rule out the possibility" of running for a new presidential term if a proposed constitutional amendment is adopted.

He said this in an interview with the Russia. Kremlin. Putin program on the Rossiya-1 TV channel. Though he said he has not decided anything yet, Putin admitted he does not "rule out the possibility of running for office, if this option comes up in the constitution".

"We will see," Putin was quoted as saying by the state TV program that was shown in Russia's Far East region before being broadcast in western Russia.

Russia will hold a nationwide vote from Thursday to July 1 on proposed changes to the constitution, including an amendment that would formally reset the incumbent's presidential term tally to zero.

Therefore, if passed, the constitutional amendment would allow Putin to seek two more six-year terms as president when his current mandate ends in 2024.

In late January, Putin suggested amendments to the fundamental law, including capping the number of presidential terms to two regardless of when they are served, and expanding the role of the legislature. He also said that the State Council, currently an advisory body made up of regional governors, should have its status and duties fixed in the constitution.

The plebiscite was originally scheduled for April 22, but was postponed due to the coronavirus.

Possible distraction

Putin, who has been in power for two decades and is now 67, suggested the hunt for a candidate to succeed him could become a distraction if he does not run again.

"If this doesn't happen, then in about two years-and I know this from personal experience-the normal rhythm of work of many parts of government will be replaced by a search for possible successors," Interfax news agency cited him as saying.

"They need to work rather than search for successors," Putin said.

In response to domestic opponents and Western critics who said the vote could be rigged, the Russian government said that the vote will be transparent and over half a million observers will be invited.

All the observers will begin their work on Thursday, with all security requirements met, said Maxim Grigoryev, head of the working group of the Russian Civic Chamber.

The Kremlin said the constitutional amendments are needed to strengthen the role of parliament and improve social policy and public administration.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the approval of these amendments will enhance the country's position as a strong and sovereign state.

Peskov said that some Western countries had never approved of Russia's growing independence.

"As long as Russia feels more self-confident, more self-reliant, more independent, as long as Russia protects itself better from interference in its domestic affairs, Russia can concentrate on 'cementing' that position. To my mind, the variety of amendments is the process of 'cementing' the current state of a strong and sovereign Russia," Peskov said.

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