Putin to MPs: No need to lift presidential term limits, People should decide on April 22

Putin  has no objection to possibility of running for president in 2024, says constitutional court to have final say on whether he can run again

Russian President Vladimir Putin rejects MPs’ initiative to hold early parliamentary elections. The Russian president sees no need in having snap parliamentary elections after the adoption of amendments to the Constitution. The idea was earlier floated in the lower House of the Russian parliament.

President Putin proposed sweeping changes to Russia's Constitution in January, with Russians set to go to the polls next month to vote on the proposed amendments, which have been discussed extensively by Russian legislative organs in recent weeks.

In late January, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a bill to the Duma on amendments to the fundamental law. The changes aim to develop provisions that enshrine the foundations of the constitutional system, including human and civil rights and freedoms.

The lower house supported the document in the first reading. The second reading of the bill to amend the constitution was scheduled for March 10, with the third scheduled for March 11.

Putin said a suggestion by MPs that would see his presidential tenure reset, thus allowing him to run again in 2024, should be supported by citizens and adopted by the Constitutional Court.

Earlier in the day, the Speaker of the Lower House Viacheslav Volodin said that the idea to abandon presidential terms limits or reset terms to zero after adopting an amendment to the Russian constitution should be discussed with President Vladimir Putin and leaders of the lower house factions.

Delivering a speech on constitutional amendments in the Russian State Duma, the Russian president  stated that there's no need in holding early parliamentary elections.

"Of course, this will be your decision in the long run. But if there is no consensus in the parliament on the matter, and as [lower house chairman [Viacheslav Volodin] has told me, there is no consensus, then I see no need to hold early elections to the State Duma," Putin said in his address for lower house lawmakers.

The idea of early parliamentary elections was proposed by MP Alexander Karelin, from the ruling 'United Russia' party.

These changes “give us great powers... to strengthen the role played by the majority of our population through representation in parliament,” said Karelin, three-time Olympic wrestling champion.

The leader of the LDPR Vladimir Zhirinovsky was supportive of the amendments, going even further by suggesting abandoning Presidential elections and allowing the State Council to select the next head of state. This is a consultative body set for significant powers under the new constitution.

The biggest parliamentary opposition bloc, the Communists, said they would not have backed the idea.

“I believe and am deeply convinced that a strong presidential power is absolutely necessary for our country,” Putin stated in his address to the State Duma. However, the public should have guarantees that elections – including presidential elections – are competitive and there is also “an alternative.”

Putin was referring to a suggestion by Valentina Tereshkova, a United Russia MP famous for being the first woman in space, to alter a proposed amendment limiting future presidents to only two terms. Backing up her proposal, she mentioned some “unpredictable risks” to the country, meaning that “reliable insurance” is needed.

Aside from that, Tereshkova suggested that Putin’s tenure be reset, making Putin eligible for two more runs before he would be subject to the new restrictions.

While respecting the two-term limitation, the proposal still enables a person who has served and (or) serves as president of Russia at the time this amendment entered into force “to participate as a candidate in the [next] presidential election.”

Touching on that, Putin said accepting such an initiative is an option – but under certain conditions. It could become real “only if citizens support such a proposal” in the upcoming national vote on April 22, the president opined.

You and I are accepting amendments to the Constitution not for a year, not for two, and not for ten, but for at least 30 or 50 years. And society should have guarantees that they will be provided with a regular change of power.

Then, Russia’s Constitutional Court would give an official conclusion that such an amendment will not run contrary to “the principles and fundamental provisions of the basic law.”

Concluding his speech, President Putin said he is confident that presidential power will eventually become less personified, it will not be “associated with any specific person.”


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