March 14 (UPI) — All 85 regional governments in Russia have approved a measure that will allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036, parliamentary officials said Friday.
The regional bodies quickly approved a bill passed this week by the Federation Assembly — Russia’s national parliament — amending the country’s “Basic Law,” under which Putin’s presidential clock will effectively be reset after his second term ends in 2024.
Prior to the changes, Russian presidents were allowed to serve only two six-year terms.
The amendments still need approval from Russia’s Constitutional Court. If it’s authorized, Putin would then devise wording for a ballot referendum to be put to voters on April 22 for final approval.
Two more terms would allow Putin to stay in office until 2036, when the 67-year-old Russian leader would be 83.
Supporters in the president’s ruling United Russia Party said the changes are necessary to ensure stability, and insist they weren’t designed to keep Putin in power.
Critics, however, say they don’t buy it. Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has denounced the changes.
“Putin has been in power for 20 years, and yet he is going to run for the first time,” he tweeted earlier this week.