Russia will probably have a new leader in 2019. Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that he might not seek re-election for the fourth term during a meeting on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Putin told Simon Bartley, the head of the World Skills International (WSI), “The event we are talking about should take place in 2019. The presidential elections in Russia will be held in 2018. But I’m sure whoever is the head of the Russian state will be happy to take part in these events.”
Earlier this month, the media noticed that the Russian President did not make public appearances for several days, which ignited different speculations. Putin postponed his meeting with the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan on March 12. A government official from Kazakhstan said it appeared that Putin was sick at the time.
The Russia government also cancelled Putin’s other appoints such as the celebration of the annexation of South Ossetia. The situation led people to ask; who would take over as Russia’s leader? Is Putin sick?
Russia’s presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov Told RIA News Agency that Putin is “absolutely healthy.” According to him, “He [Putin] has meetings all the time, but not all meetings are public. The agenda is very intensive – linked to the crisis…”
Remaining as president forever is “detrimental” for Russia
At the time, Putin pointed out that it would be “detrimental” for Russia if he will remain in the “president’s chair forever.” He added, “I don’t need this” as well. Under Russia’s constitution Putin is allowed to run for the fourth term in 2018. When asked if he would seek re-election, Putin replied, “it indeed allows, but it does not mean that I will make such a decision. I will proceed from the general context, domestic understanding, and my personal feelings.”
The Russian people first elected Putin as president of the country in 2000. He served two terms (total of eight years). After that, he became Prime Minister of Russia. In 2012, he was again elected as Russia’s president for a six-year term.
Political observers suggested that a serious presidential race is uncertain to take place on 2018 if Putin decides not to stand for re-election. They emphasized that Putin is expected to endorse a successor, who will continue to protect his interests. A possible successor will be Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu because of his popularity among Russians.
The last time, Putin was asked about his plans for 2018 was during a major press conference last December. At the time, he pointed out that it was too early for anyone to make a decision regarding the election.
Putin said, “Officials must work for the benefit of our state. And the results of this work must prompt the decision of who should run in the elections. It is important to work persistently in the interests of Russian citizens. The decision on who would take part in the 2018 polls can be made on the basis of the work results and the moods in the society,”
Putin remains very popular among Russians
The Moscow Times reported that 60% of Russian’s do not want Putin to stand for re-election for the fourth term. Forty-five percent (45%) prefers to have a new president, who has no ties with the current administration.
On the other hand, Levada Center, an independent polling agency released the results of its recent survey indicating that 85% of Russians have a positive view regarding Putin’s work as president. Only 14% of the participant in the survey expressed disappointment with his performance.
According to the survey, 57% of Russians will be happy if Putin will be re-elected on 2018 while 25% prefer a different leader. Nineteen percent (19%) said it was difficult for them to make a choice.
Putin’s approval rating reached an all-time high early last month. Eighty-five percent (85%) trusted Putin and 74% promised that he would vote for him if the elections are held the following week.
Last December, majority of Russian selected Putin as the “Man of the Year” among the serving government officials in Russia.