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Leonid Bershidsky

Putin's New Plan to Hold Power Forever

The Russian leader has come up with a constitutional reform that gives him three paths to indefinite rule.

Bigger than life.

Bigger than life.

Photographer:  Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

In his state of the nation address on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a sweeping constitutional reform that would give him several options to retain power after 2024, when his term ends. The announcement led to the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s government, showing that a full reset of Russia’s governance system is underway — and that Medvedev won’t succeed Putin as president, as he did for one term in 2008.

Having spent the first hour of the 80-minute speech on demographics and the economy, Putin suddenly turned to the constitution. Most of his proposals would leave Russia, whose current constitution now enshrines near-dictatorial presidential powers, with a less powerful presidency — and a more limited choice of potential presidents.