Russian President Vladimir Putin Signs Law That Could Keep Him in Power Until 2036

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Monday that could keep him in power until 2036. Should that happen, Putin will hold the office for 24 consecutive years.

A popular vote last July endorsed a provision that would reset Putin's terms to zero, allowing him to run for president two more times. The presidential term length in Russia is six years.

The law was approved by the Kremlin-controlled legislature and signed into law by Putin, then posted Monday on an official portal of legal information.

The 68-year-old Russian president has been in power for more than two decades. He served as president from 2000 to 2008; prime minster from 2008 to 2012; and president again from 2012 to the present.

He is second only to Joseph Stalin in terms of how long he has held control of the Russian government. He has said he would decide later whether to run in 2024 once his current term expires.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the public of Crimea via a video link in Moscow on March 18, 2021. Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP/Getty Images

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Putin has argued that resetting the term count was necessary to keep his lieutenants focused on their work instead of "darting their eyes in search for possible successors."

The constitutional amendments also emphasized the primacy of Russian law over international norms, outlawed same-sex marriages and mentioned "a belief in God" as a core value. Nearly 78 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendments during the balloting that lasted for a week and concluded on July 1. Turnout was 68 percent.

Following the vote, Russian lawmakers have methodically modified the national legislation, approving the relevant laws.

The opposition criticized the constitutional vote, arguing that it was tarnished by widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities, as well as a lack of transparency and hurdles hindering independent monitoring.

In the months since the vote, Russia has imprisoned the country's most prominent opposition figure, Alexei Navalny.

The 44-year-old Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

In February, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated—and which the European Сourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful.

His team says Navalny has lost a substantial amount of weight while on a hunger strike to protest what he said was poor medical care.