It took five hours for Russian lawmakers to propose, consider, and adopt legislation that could keep Putin in office for another 16 years
The State Duma convenes to vote on the second reading of constitutional reform legislation. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of LDPR and a long-time political blowhard, proposes adding a last-minute amendment that would initiate snap parliamentary elections. Next, deputy Valentina Tereshkova (yes, the first woman in space) floats another idea: eliminate all presidential term limits or at least zero the incumbent president’s term clock. Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin says this latter idea is a biggie and announces the need for additional consultations with party faction leaders and President Putin himself. He announces an immediate recess, so he can telephone the president. Within an hour, Putin arrives in person at the State Duma and delivers a speech, arguing that snap elections are unnecessary and eliminating term limits is unwise. He says zeroing his own term clock, however, is possible, so long as Russia’s Constitutional Court upholds the idea as constitutional. Lawmakers applaud and Putin leaves. The amendment calling for snap elections is withdrawn and deputies pass the amendment zeroing all presidential term clocks. If the Constitutional Court doesn’t object, Putin will be able to run for two more terms, keeping him in power until 2036.
Photo on front page: Pavel Golovkin / AP / Scanpix / LETA