The Chechen parliament has drafted a bill in the State Duma that, if passed, would allow Vladimir Putin and all future Russian presidents to remain in office for three consecutive terms instead of the current two.
Russian laws allow regional legislatures to draft federal laws and earlier this month the legislative assembly of the Chechen Republic unanimously voted in favor of the decision to prepare and submit a bill that would allow the same person to remain president more than twice in a row. When presenting the motion the chairman of the assembly, Magomed Daudov, emphasized that it did not diminish the democratic foundations of the Russian state but allowed citizens to better determine their future.
Currently, the Russian constitution allows the same person to run for the presidency for an unlimited number of terms on one condition – there can be no more than two consecutive terms. In 1998, the issue was brought before the Russian Constitutional Court, which ruled that the third and fourth terms would be legal if there is a break between the second and third terms. This is why Putin could not run for president in 2008 after winning in 2000 and 2004. In 2012, the condition regarding consecutive terms was not applicable, so Putin ran again and won.
In April this year the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, called for legislative changes that would allow Putin to be re-elected president after his current term expires in 2024.
“As long as our incumbent president is in good health we must not think about any other head of state. This is my personal opinion and I am not changing it. Right now there is no alternative to Putin,” Kadyrov was quoted as saying by Interfax. He added that this could be done through a nationwide referendum and that in his opinion there was no need to ask for Putin’s consent over the issue.
The Chechen leader noted that many other nations do well without this type of restriction. “Why can China do this and Germany can do this, but not us? If this is in the people’s interest, why can’t we make changes to the law?” he said.
Some federal lawmakers have already supported the proposal. Deputy head of Fair Russia caucus, MP Mikhail Yemelyanov, told Interfax that his party colleagues also think that the limit on two consecutive presidential terms should be lifted.
Others, like deputy chair of the Upper House legislative committee Senator Yelena Afanasyeva, opposed the motion saying that it was wrong to change the constitution on a whim. Afanasyeva recalled that Vladimir Putin himself had repeatedly spoke against any constitutional changes that would prolong his time in office.
“If the Chechen parliamentarians think that such changes are of vital importance they should initiate a nationwide referendum on the issue,” she added.
In the first reaction to the Chechen move, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the president did not have the issue of changing the constitutional law on the presidency on his agenda and added that the leader had repeatedly expressed his negative position over changes to the constitution.
In one of the most recent statements, done in an interview with the NBC television in March this year, Putin said that he had never changed the constitution and had no intention to do so in future.