Days after triggering speculation over his plans to stay in power for an indefinite period of time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected a return to the Soviet-era norm of having lifelong rulers. Putin's clarification came when he was speaking to World War Two veterans in St Petersburg on Saturday.
"As regards (presidential) terms for staying in power I understand ... that (concern over this) is linked for many people with worries about societal, state and domestic and external stability," Putin said when a veteran asked if it was time to abolish term limits for presidents. "But it would be very worrying to return to the situation we had in the mid-1980s when state leaders stayed in power, one by one, until the end of their days and left office without ensuring the necessary conditions for a transition of power. So thanks, but I think it would be better not to return to that situation," Putin added, according to Reuters.
Putin dropped a mini political bombshell when he said last week he was shaking up the power structure in the Kremlin. Putin's announcement of planned transfer of more power to the prime minister and the president was followed by the surprise resignation of long-time ally and prime minister, Dimitry Medvedev. In a surprise move, Putin picked little known Mikhail Mishustin, the head of Russia's tax service.
The political blitzkrieg was soon seen as the statement of intent to stay on in power beyond 2024, when he would complete two consecutive terms as president.
Here are some interesting facts about Vladimir Putin:
Grandfather had spy training - Putin's paternal grandfather worked as a cook for Vladimir Lenin. He also later for Communist autocrat Joseph Stalin. His grandfather was trained by the NKVD, a predecessor to the KGB, suggesting that Putin's legacy as a spy has legs.
Putin's early years were humble - He grew up in a St. Petersburg commune where his family shared an apartment with three other families. His father Vladimir Putin was a factory foreman.
Martial arts exponent - Putin, who has never shied away from flaunting his stripes as a martial arts exponent earned a black belt in judo when he was 18. He is also well-trained in Russian martial art form Sambo.
Recruited Soviet secret police - He joined the spy agency KGB straight after his college and the turbulent 80s outside Russia. he was in Germany for an extended period in the 80s, setting up systems for the Soviet secret police to recruit spies in the dying days of the Berlin Wall.
Turning to politics - The year 1991 was portentous for Putin. That's when he turned to politics, becoming an adviser to Anatoly Sobchak, who was running for Leningrad mayorship.
Yeltsin's right hand man - The major catapult was in 1997, when President Boris Yeltsin named him deputy chief administrator of the Kremlin. In August 1999 Yeltsin appointed Putin as prime minister.
Spy novels and pet dogs - What are his loves? Except, of course, Donald Trump and a generous dose of horse riding, tiger-hunting, and swimming with the sharks? It is said that Putin loves spy novels and pet dogs. His dogs would often pull off a useful prank at meetings with world leaders.
Ends 33 years of marriage - Putin divorced his wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva in 2013 after 33 years of marriage. The announcement came during the interval of a ballet which he attended.
From atheist to orthodox Christian - Growing up in the Communist Russia, Putin was an atheist. However, he gravitated to religion later on. He is currently a faithful the Russian Orthodox Church. He also holds onto controversial orthodox beliefs such as opposition to same-sex marriage. He had once placed gay marriage on a par with belief in Satan. Putin's return to religion happened in the 1990s.