Vladimir Putin Been Has in Power Over Two Decades, Could Remain Until 2036

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author
By

Feb. 22 2022, Published 10:06 a.m. ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of the most powerful leaders globally. While Russia became a democratic county following the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have been hearing about Putin and Russia in the same breath for many years. How long has Putin been in power and when will he quit?

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In relative terms, the Russian economy is now a pale shadow of the combined GDP of the erstwhile Soviet Union. But it's still a strong military power. While Russia isn't even in the top 10 countries globally in terms of its GDP, it's among the top three military powers.

Putin is an ex-KGB spy.

Putin is an ex-KGB spy. He spent 15 years at the KGB, which was among the premier spy agencies globally before it dissolved in 1991. He moved to Moscow in 1996 and became a deputy to the Kremlin’s chief administrator Pavel Borodin. Putin's rise to the top was swift and in 1998 he became the director of Russia’s Federal Security Service by then-president Boris Yeltsin.

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Putin has been in power since 1999.

In 1999, Yeltsin was looking at retirement and it was a crucial year for Russian politics. Yeltsin made Putin his prime minister and then made him the acting president. Putin was elected as the Russian president in 2000 when he received 53 percent of the votes. Putin has now been in power for over two decades.

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Putin was the Russian president between 1999–2008.

The term of the Russian president, like their U.S. counterpart, was four years. After winning the elections in 2000, Putin was re-elected as the president in the 2004 elections as well. He held the position until 2008. However, according to the then Russian laws, no one could become the president for the third consecutive term.

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But then, individuals with authoritarian tendencies don't let go of power easily, even in a political model with resemblance to a democracy. In 2008, Putin became the prime minister under long-time ally Dmitry Medvedev. However, for all practical reasons, Putin assumed the most power in the government and Medvedev was only a figurehead.

One key decision that Medvedev took was to extend the presidential term from four years to six years, which extended Putin’s next term.

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Putin was back as the Russian president in 2012.

Putin was elected as the Russian president in 2012 and continued to hold the post until 2018, thanks to the law change under his predecessor. No matter how much the West abhors Putin, he seems to be popular in Russia and was re-elected as the president in 2018, a post he will keep until 2024.

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In 2020, the Russian parliament made some significant constitutional amendments that allow Putin to seek re-election in 2024 and then again in 2030. Simply put, if Putin wants, he can be the Russian president until 2036. This would mean a total of 37 years in power including 33 years as the president.

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Putin could be the Russian president until 2036.

Despite the constitutional amendment, Putin went for a referendum from Russian voters to seek legitimacy to the changes. Over three-fourths voted for the changes, which paved the way for Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Putin hasn't given any hints about whether he intends to run in the 2024 election. However, as long as he is fit, either he or one of his trusted lieutenants will run Russia.

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Incidentally, like Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping also removed the two-year term limit, which allows him to practically be the president for life. His third re-election is coming up in 2022. Unlike Russia, which is a democracy, China is a communist country.

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