Russian state media boss Dmitry Kiselyov said his country would be a failed state without President Vladimir Putin as he sought to justify constitutional changes that would allow the former KGB colonel to hang on to power until 2036.
Putin, who is in his fourth presidential term, last week backed a new amendment that would allow him to ignore a current constitutional ban on him running again in four years' time.
The Constitutional Court is expected to approve the changes later this month.
“Let's be honest. Russia without Putin is still not viable,” Kiselyov said on March 15 during his popular weekly Sunday program on Rossia 24, adding the nation’s political system still hasn’t been “completed” and “balanced.”
Kiselyov, considered the nation’s chief propagandist, said the nation still doesn’t have a “responsible opposition” capable of winning elections without derailing the country.
Putin remaining in power another 12 years would give Russia’s political institutions time to develop, he claimed.
Russia’s political institutions, including parliament and political parties, have been severely weakened during Putin’s two-decade-long tenure, while many opposition figures have been jailed, killed, or have fled amid concerns over their safety and freedom.
The nation’s elections have also been marred by fraud such as ballot-stuffing while some opposition politicians have been barred from running.