bne IntelliNews -
Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to abide by the Russian constitution, ruling out a monarchy or presidency for life, he said in an interview with news agency TASS. Asked whether “the president’s chair is forever with you", Putin answered "No".
“There are terms defined by the Russian Constitution,” he said, referring to the law that he must step down in 2024 at the latest, after serving two consecutive six-year terms as president starting in 2012. He already served four years as prime minister, following a first eight-year spell as president between 2000-2008.
Putin also declined to say whether he would definitely run again for president in 2018, the next date for presidential elections. “It [the constitution] indeed allows but it does not mean that I will make such decision. I will proceed from the general context, domestic understanding and my personal feelings... There’s much time ahead and a lot can change,” he said.
Putin ruled out introducing a monarchy, an idea that is gaining increasing popularity in nationalist circles in Russia. “Fortunately or unfortunately – and let’s stay away from assessments now – we’re past that stage,” Putin said. “We’ve closed the monarchic chapter of our history.”
Konstantin Malofeev, an investment banker and prominent backer of the pro-Russian separatist movement in Ukraine, in a recent interview called for Putin to become a monarch. “Monarchy is the only true form of rule in Russia. Vladimir Putin is an outstanding historical leader the country is very lucky to have... Why should we vote for the leader, if we already love him?” Malofeev asked. Previously the nationalist politician and Kremlin ally Vladimir Zhirinovsky also called for Putin to become a monarch.
Putin's current ratings stand at over 80% approval, according to an independent poll conducted by the Levada-Center, following the annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in March 2014. First deputy chief of the presidential administration, Vyacheslav Volodin, recently underlined Putin's domination of Russian politics, saying in a speech at the Valdai Forum of Russian experts that “No Putin, no Russia". In the interview, Putin said he disagreed "absolutely" with the formula.
Putin also said that it was "too early" to start naming streets after him, or erecting monuments to him. "There is still some work ahead and the future generations will assess the contribution to Russia’s development each of us will have made," he said.
Former president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, said that Putin may think of himself as "second only to God". "He has started picking up the same illness which I suffered from earlier – self-confidence," Gorbachev said at a book launch. "Don't get a big head. That is what ruined me," he warned Putin.
Forbes magazine recently rated Putin as most influential man on the planet for the second year in a row. Putin dismissed the rating as an attempt to spoil relations with US President Barack Obama, saying that influence derives from "a state’s economic and defense capabilities" and that Russia was far from being number one in the world in these categories.
Putin in the interview also dismissed rumours of health problems. "All worries are in foes’ dreams!" he told TASS.
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