No plans to do so: Putin on changing constitution to cling to power

File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Moscow, Russia Mar 10, 2018, 11.16 AM (IST)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he had no plans to change the constitution to stay in the Kremlin beyond 2024.

Asked by the US television network NBC whether he would follow in the footsteps of China's Xi Jinping, Putin 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 Saturday.

Putin also 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 Russia 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 though he had been thinking about his potential successor, ultimately the decision would be taken by the Russian people.

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

The Russian president, who is accused by critics of having ambitions to stay in power indefinitely, is expected to be reelected for a fourth term in an upcoming ballot.

Putin, who was first elected president in 2000 and is running for a fourth term in the March 18 polls, has always prided himself on respecting the constitution, which bars him from serving more than two presidential terms in a row.

Putin's top critic Alexei Navalny has been 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 politician 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."

Story highlights

Asked by the US television network NBC whether he would follow in the footsteps of China's Xi Jinping, Putin insisted he had no such intentions