MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on constitutional amendments on Saturday allowing him to run for reelection and remain at the head of the Kremlin until 2036.
He put his signature on the reforms after parliament completed all the necessary steps to adopt the amendments, for which only a week was required, according to a document published on the official legal information web portal showed on Saturday.
The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of government, reviewed the measures on Saturday in an extraordinary plenary session.
All 85 subjects that make up the Russian Federation approved the changes to the constitution, which were promoted by Putin, with 164 votes in favor and one against.
The Duma, Russia’s lower house, and the Federation Council had previously approved the reforms, which were announced in mid-January.
Putin, who for years was against modifying the constitution to continue leading the country, this time agreed to amend it and left the door open for a possible fifth and sixth term after 2024, when he should leave the presidency under the current laws.
The leader, who has been in power for 20 years, will now send the law to the Constitutional Court, which must rule within seven days on its compatibility with the constitutional system.
The Russian president has promised that the constitutional changes will only come into force if the highest court gives its approval and if the Russian people approve them in a referendum scheduled for April 22.
The Kremlin said that for the laws to be approved, more than half of the citizens who participate in the national vote must cast their ballot in favor of the package of amendments.
In addition to numerous social issues, such as annual indexation of pensions and support for large families, the amendments included a proclamation of Russians’ faith in God, defined marriage as the union of a man and woman and banned giving away any Russian territory.
Critics have described the amendments deception to allow Putin to maintain power beyond his current term.
According to the current 1993 constitution, which does not allow the head of state to rule for more than two consecutive terms, the Russian president could not run for re-election in 2024 when his current term ends.
The amendment approved by parliament removes the word “consecutive” and allows the president-in-office at the time of its inception to stand for re-election regardless of the number of terms they have served before.