The following article is from my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory in The Hill
Vladimir Putin cannot afford to be an ex-president. Any successor will blame him for all that is wrong in Russia. There would be a mad dash to recoup (divide) his billions stashed offshore. He might even face international courts on charges of state murder.
Earlier than expected — he currently rules, by law, until 2024 — Putin is in the final stage of executing a plan for lifetime rule.
Here’s how the plan works: The Putin administration is orchestrating the ratification of 14 amendments to Russia’s 1993 constitution. The key second amendment wipes Putin’s slate clean: Election as Russia’s president in 2024 would be counted as his first, and he could run again in 2030. Under this new rule, Putin’s last year as president would be 2036 — at the age of 83.
The other amendments are window-dressing. They propose obtuse administrative changes and popular items such as outlawing same-sex marriage and guaranteeing minimum incomes.
The amendment package was approved in March by the State Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly), the 85 Federation Subjects (the country’s top political divisions), and by the constitutional court. Putin had planned for the final stage — a nationwide referendum — to be held amid the patriotic wave two days after the spectacular May 7 parades celebrating the 75th anniversary of Russia’s 1945 victory over Germany.
Then along came coronavirus. The victory parade had to be postponed until June 24, and the referendum until July 1.