For those wondering when, if ever, Russian president Vladimir Putin may call it quits, he is now on record saying he will remain in power for another decade at most.
Under the Russian constitution, Putin can serve another six-year term after his current one expires in 2018. And if his popularity holds up—88% of Russians approved of his leadership in the Levada Center’s most recent poll—he would probably win. In an interview with Itar-TASS, the Russian news agency, Putin said he’s not certain that he will run again, but if one assumes that he does, he would remain president through 2024, when he will be 72 years old.
Asked if he’ll serve for life, Putin replied, “This is not good and detrimental for the country, and I do not need it, as well.”
Of course, history is replete with leaders who spoke similarly only to have second thoughts when they perceived a clarion call for their return. In the US, there’s the example of Theodore Roosevelt, who tried to return to power in the election of 1912 but lost to then-president William Howard Taft, his protégé.
Putin must have heard that call in 2011. The Russian constitution forbids more than two consecutive terms but, as long as successive terms are separated by at least one other person in office, permits an unlimited absolute number of terms and years in power. Putin had served two terms as president from 2000 to 2008, then anointed his protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, to succeed him while he took the ostensibly lesser post of prime minister. After Medvedev served one term, Putin returned.
If he pulled such a switch again, Putin could return as president in 2030, when he will be a mere 78.