Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Monday legislation that would allow him to stay in power until 2036, the Moscow Times reports. If Putin stays in office that long, he will have held the reins longer than Josef Stalin, who ruled for 29 years, a run second only to Peter the Great. The measure restarts the clock on Putin's term limits. Had it not gone through, Putin’s term would end in 2024. Instead, he can run for two more six-year terms. The bill, passed by both chambers of Russia's parliament, reflects changes to the Russian constitution that voters approved in a referendum in July 2020. The Kremlin said more than 70% of voters approved the changes to the constitution, though the election was marked with protests.
Putin, 68, has been in power since 1999, either as president or, from 2008 to 2012, as Dmitry Medvedev's prime minister. Presidential terms were extended from four years to six during Medvedev’s presidency, which many saw as an early move to evade term limits. Critics of the Kremlin have expressed concern that the law could make Putin a de facto president for life, reports the AFP. As for the people's appetite for the new law, the Financial Times previously reported that a March poll showed 48% of Russians were in favor of Putin securing another term, though that percentage was much lower—at 31%—among those ages 18 to 24. The Hill notes the new law also guarantees both Putin and Medvedev lifetime immunity from prosecution. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)