Russia constitutional court approves amendment allowing Putin to serve two additional terms

The Russian Constitutional Court released a 52-page decision Monday approving amendments to the constitution, including an amendment that would allow Vladimir Putin to serve up to two additional terms as president.

The current constitution imposes a two-term limit to the presidency, and Putin has put forward a series of amendments, one of which would reset the term-limit clock and allow him to run again. He has served Russia as president from 2000 to 2008, then again from 2012 to the present. Last week both houses of the Russia parliament overwhelmingly approved the constitutional changes, and today’s decision by the Constitutional Court was the next step in those changes becoming official.

Just hours before the court issued its decision, a group of 350 legal experts, journalists and writers published an open letter decrying the proposed changes as “an anti-constitutional coup” that “threatens … national discord.” The court’s decision itself was no surprise except in its speed, having come down only two days after Mr. Putin submitted his request; the court is widely seen as under the Kremlin’s control.

The next step is a national referendum on the changes, scheduled for April 22.