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Putin says will not change constitution to cling to power

AFP  |  Moscow 

Russian Vladimir Putin, who is expected to be reelected for a fourth term in an upcoming ballot, said today he had no plans to change the constitution to stay in the Kremlin beyond 2024.

Asked by the US whether he would follow in the footsteps of China's Xi Jinping, who is eyeing a limitless tenure, insisted he had no such intentions.

"I never changed the constitution, I did not do it to suit myself and I have no such plans to do so today," he said in an interview whose transcript was released by the Kremlin on today.

Critics accuse Putin, who was first elected in 2000 and is running for a fourth term in March 18 polls, of harbouring ambitions to stay in power indefinitely.

has always prided himself on respecting the constitution, which bars him from serving more than two presidential terms in a row.

In 2008, became but maintained his grip on power, with his protege serving as until 2012 when Putin returned to the Kremlin in the face of huge opposition protests.

He rejected suggestions that he could not quit power because it would put him in danger, saying he heard "a lot of ravings on this subject".

"Why do you think after me power in will be necessarily taken over by people who are ready to destroy everything that I have done over the past years?" Putin said.

He said he had been thinking about his potential successor since 2000.

"It never hurts to think but at the end of the day it will be the Russian people who will decide that," he added.

Putin will run against a motley crew of seven challengers, with his top barred from contesting the poll because of a criminal conviction his supporters call punishment for challenging the strongman.

Putin declined to say whether he could pardon Navalny.

"Any man can be pardoned if he deserves this," said Putin.

The Russian president, who never called Navalny by his name in public, referred to the 41-year-old opposition as "certain political forces".

"What do I like in principle? It's that they expose problems and this is good, indeed it's right," Putin said.

"But it's not enough for the country's positive development. Absolutely not enough. Because concentrating one's attention on problems, it's not only insufficient, it's even dangerous because it could lead to certain destruction and we need creation.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, March 10 2018. 16:00 IST
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