So now Vladimir Putin would have us believe that he is getting tired of his job.
Speaking to factory workers in Chelyabinsk yesterday, the Kremlin leader said he would like to "successfully complete his career."
He lamented that when he travels as president, he is confined to a bubble.
Instead, he said, he'd love to get out and see the sights like an ordinary Joe.
One has to wonder where he would like to go.
After all, since Putin has said that Russia's borders don't end anywhere, he probably thinks he could see the world without even leaving the country.
Or perhaps he'd like to visit Georgia, up close. Or Ukraine. Or the Baltics.
Maybe he even believes he would be welcome.
In reality, Putin was playing a predictable little mind game ahead of next year's presidential election.
He's pretending he doesn't really want to stay in the Kremlin to test the reaction in the elite and in the society.
He's feigning fatigue with power to make everybody worry about what happens if he really goes.
It's a psy-op worthy of the operative that he is.
Because Putin isn't going anywhere and he knows it.
That's part of the deal. Autocrats don't get to have a peaceful retirement.
Putin has made his bed. He's a prisoner of the Kremlin, like it or not.