MOSCOW -- The Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, has approved the third and final reading of a bill aligning election laws with recent changes to the constitution that among other things allow for the possibility of President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.
The bill, approved on March 24, still requires the approval of parliament’s upper chamber, the Federation Council, as well as Putin's signature.
The constitutional amendments initiated in January 2020 by the 68-year-old Putin, who has been running the country as prime minister or president since late-1999, were approved in March 2020 by the State Duma. One clause in the amendments reset Putin's term-limit clock to zero, allowing him to seek reelection when his current term expires in 2024, and again in 2030 if he wishes.
Under the current election laws, the president is forbidden from seeking a third consecutive six-year term.
The controversial amendments that were finally adopted via the nationwide referendum last summer sparked protests in Moscow that were dispersed by law enforcement.
According to the results of a poll by the independent Levada Center last month, 41 percent of Russians do not want Putin to stay in power after his current term expires in 2024.