Lib Dems leader confirms presidential ambitions, proposes single-term limit

Lib Dems leader confirms presidential ambitions, proposes single-term limit
The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has told reporters he will definitely participate in the 2018 presidential race, also urging changes to the current law that allows presidents to serve two consecutive terms.

I will definitely run as a candidate in the March 2018 elections,” Zhirinovsky told RIA Novosti. The politician, 71, who has headed the Liberal Democratic Party since its foundation in the late 1980s, also said that he considered himself to be a new figure in the executive branch of power because he has never assumed any executive state posts throughout his career.

If I win this race and become the head of state on March 18, 2018, we will immediately have new politics in our country,” he said.

Zhirinovsky also noted that in his opinion the best scenario for the race would develop if the incumbent Russian leadership voluntarily refused to participate. “In this case, I would have the best chances of all, because I have a lot of energy and experience while other potential opposition candidates are constantly giving up their positions. [The head of the Fair Russia party Sergey] Mironov and [the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady] Zyuganov have not yet decided anything, because they are afraid to run. And the young ones they lack experience and authority, they will never win.”

In the same interview, Zhirinovsky said that the current Russian law that allows the same person to remain president for two consecutive six-year terms should be canceled. “We have proposed this many times: the Constitution must contain a very solid norm reading that one person can remain president for only one term. It can be five, six or seven years, but it must be only one term,” he said.

Zhirinovsky is one of the best-known and most experienced politicians in Russia. The LDPR was among the first political parties to register after the Communist Party monopoly on state power ended in 1991 (the party had existed underground and under a slightly different name since 1989). If he keeps his promise to run, it would be Zhirinovsky’s sixth presidential bid – the fifth for president of the Russian Federation, plus one attempt in 1991 when Russia was a Soviet republic.

Another possible contender in the 2018 race is the founder of the liberal Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky.

Anti-corruption activist Aleksey Navalny has also announced plans to run for the presidency, but is technically banned from doing so because he is currently serving a five-year suspended jail sentence that will not expire before the March 2018 election.

Russia’s largest opposition party – the Communists – has not yet announced its candidate, nor has the parliamentary majority United Russia party.

Incumbent President Vladimir Putin gave the first hint of his possible participation in the race in early August when a group of villagers in the Siberian republic of Buryatia asked him to register as a candidate. “All right, I will think about it, thank you,” Putin replied.