Russia's Putin Signs 'President for Life' Bill into Law
Russian leader changes constitution to remain in power until 2036
Russia's leader Vladimir Putin has signed new legislation into law, dubbed the "President for Life" bill, that will allow the dictator to potentially remain in power until 2036.
Putin signed the bill into Russian law on Monday that updates the country's constitution.
The move formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in last year's popular vote on July 1.
The constitutional vote included a provision that allows Putin to run for president two more times by resetting his previous terms.
After passing the vote, the change was rubber-stamped by the Kremlin-controlled legislature.
The relevant law was then signed by Putin was posted Monday on an official portal of legal information.
The 68-year-old Russian president, who has been in power for more than two decades - longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin - said he would decide later whether to run again in 2024 when his current six-year term ends, according to The Daily Mail.
He has argued that resetting the term count was necessary to keep his lieutenants from "darting their eyes in search for possible successors' instead of normal work."
The constitutional amendments also emphasized the priority of Russian law over international norms, outlawed same-sex marriages, and mentioned "a belief in God" as a core value.
Russian lawmakers have methodically modified the national legislation, approving the relevant laws.
Putin, 68, was due to be term-limited out of office in 2024 but last year won public backing to amend Russia's constitution and pave the way for two more terms.
The necessary legislation passed the lower house of Russia's parliament last month.
Putin won his first presidential election in 2000 after taking over as acting president when Boris Yeltsin resigned on the final day of the 20th century.
He won another term in 2004, before moving to the prime minister's office in 2008 while Dmitry Medvedev held the fort as president.
Putin and Medvedev then swapped jobs in 2012, with Putin returning to the presidency for a six-year term.
He won a fourth term in 2018 but would have been ineligible in 2024 under a constitutional provision banning more than two consecutive terms.
After years of speculation about how Putin might get around the "2024 problem," lawmakers proposed last year that his personal term-limit clock be reset to zero.
The proposal was put to a referendum in a package of measures alongside populist economic reforms and socially conservative gestures backed by the Kremlin.
These included enshrining the country's "faith in God" in one clause of the constitution while introducing another which effectively banned gay marriage.
Putin won the referendum by a wide margin - nearly 78 percent voted in favor - after voters cast their ballots over the space of a week in June and July to limit the risk of coronavirus.
But there were hundreds of complaints of violations including people voting more than once and allegations that employers had pressured their staff to vote, according to Golos, an independent election monitor.
Kremlin opponents criticized the initiative at the time, calling it a pretext to allow Putin to become "president for life."