March 14, 2020 / 4:05 PM / 19 days ago

Putin asks court if he can amend constitution to run again for president

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the lower house of parliament to consider constitutional changes in Moscow, Russia March 10, 2020. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has formally asked the country’s constitutional court if it is legal for him to change the constitution, the Kremlin said on Saturday, a move that could allow him to remain in power until 2036.

Putin in January unveiled a major shake-up of Russian politics and a constitutional overhaul, which the Kremlin billed as a redistribution of power from the presidency to parliament.

But Putin, 67, who has dominated Russia’s political landscape for two decades as either president or prime minister, made a dramatic appearance in parliament on Tuesday to back a new amendment that would allow him to ignore a current constitutional ban on him running again in 2024.

His intervention raised the prospect of him serving another two six-year consecutive terms after 2024, though the Kremlin points out that Putin has not yet said whether he will run again in 2024.

The Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday that Putin had signed off on the constitutional changes after they were approved by both house of the country’s parliament and by regional parliaments.

The constitutional court must now rule whether the changes are legal ahead of a planned nationwide vote on the shake-up due on April 22.

OVD-Info, a monitoring group, said that police had detained around 50 people in Moscow on Saturday protesting against Putin’s plan to change the constitution.

Footage showed riot police bundling protesters into buses near the headquarters of the FSB security service in central Moscow. They had been lining up to take turns to hold single-person protest pickets.

Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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