Vladimir Putin has sparked concern and confusion after saying he was open to changing Russia’s constitution to increase the power of parliament and limit the number of presidential terms.
Reuters says the issue of constitutional reform in Russia “is watched closely amid speculation about Putin’s own political ambitions”.
Having served as either president or prime minister since 1999, Putin is barred under the current constitution from running again as president when his current term ends in 2024.
“Critics have accused him of plotting to wield power beyond 2024 however, suggesting he might change the constitution to run again as president, shift power to parliament and assume an enhanced role as prime minister, or head a new union state comprised of Russia and neighbouring Belarus,” says the Moscow Times.
Fielding questions from media and the public during his annual press conference, Putin did little to assuage these concerns.
He said he would consider amending the Russian constitution to limit anyone’s ability to serve more than two terms, “preventing any potential successor from occupying power for the same period as Putin has done”, says The Guardian.
The paper reports he is also following proposals to increase parliamentary powers, “driving speculation that he could assume the role of prime minister after exiting the presidency, in what would be an echo of the 2008 election in which he traded places with then-premier, Dmitry Medvedev, after serving two terms as president”.
“Although Putin was reelected only last year, speculation has focused on whether Putin plans to leave office or manage a transition designed to preserve his political legacy, for example by maneouvring a reliable successor into power,” says The Washington Post.
“There seemed little doubt that Putin, choosing his words carefully, intentionally left his true meaning open to interpretation” it says.
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