Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that enables him to contest the presidency twice more, which could potentially allow the 68-year-old leader to stay in power until 2036. 

The legislation, which was uploaded to the Russian government’s legal information portal on Monday, reflects sweeping changes to the constitution that Russians overwhelmingly backed in a vote in July last year. 

Putin became the prime minister of Russia in 1999 and was first elected president in 2000. He served two consecutive four-year terms before being succeeded by Dmitry Medvedev in 2008.  

Putin then served as prime minister again from 2008 to 2012. While in office, Medvedev signed off on legislation extending terms to six years starting with the next president. 

Putin then returned to the Kremlin in 2012 and won reelection in 2018. His current term expires in 2024.

The law signed by Putin limits any future president to two terms in office. It also prevents anyone who has held foreign citizenship or permanent residence permit from running for the Kremlin. 

The legislation was passed in the lower and upper houses of parliament last month. 

Explaining the proposed changes in March last year, Putin described the role of the president as the “guarantor” of Russia’s constitution. 

“The president is the guarantor of the constitution or, simply put, the guarantor of the country’s security, domestic stability and, as I said before, evolutionary development,” he said in a speech at a State Duma plenary session, according to a report by TASS News Agency. 

“I have no doubt that the day will come when the supreme, presidential power in Russia will not be so personified, if I may say so, that it will not be connected to a certain individual,” he added. (CGTN)