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MOSCOW — At the urging of President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s lower house of Parliament passed legislation Tuesday allowing him to run for a fifth term as president.
Putin, who is 67 years old and was first elected in 2000, noted that the legislation would still have to be approved by Russia’s Constitutional Court and in a nationwide plebiscite in April.
But in Russia’s tightly controlled political system, Tuesday’s choreographed flurry of events was the clearest sign yet that after 20 years as president or prime minister, Putin is preparing to stay in the Kremlin for, perhaps, the rest of his life.
Putin said he had supported the legislation for the good of the country and its security. The president is the guarantor “of the security of our state, of its internal stability — its internal, evolutionary stability,” Putin said. “And I mean evolutionary. We’ve had enough revolutions.”
While momentous, the events that unfolded Tuesday in Parliament were hardly a surprise. Under Russia’s current Constitution, Putin is obligated to step down at the end of his presidential term in 2024. But few in Russia expected him to relinquish power so soon.
It became clear on Tuesday that a constitutional overhaul initiated by Putin in January would become the vehicle to do just that. Putin’s proposed amendments to the Constitution covered the intricacies of the authority of the president and the prime minister, while another proposed amendment would ban gay marriage.
But on Tuesday, as lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament took up the amendments, one of them added a new one to the mix. Putin should be allowed to run again in 2024, said cosmonaut-turned-politician Valentina Tereshkova, who in 1963 became the first woman in space.
What followed was a quick cascade of developments that seemed to be carefully planned to carry a patina of spontaneity. The speaker of the lower house, the State Duma, said Putin would appear in order to give his own input on the new proposal. Members of the pro-Putin United Russia party said they would back it.
Minutes after Putin spoke, Duma lawmakers voted in favor of legislation that would reset the term-limit clock for Putin if he were to run again in 2024.