The constitutional amendment that he endorsed on March 10 enables him – if he so chooses – to become the longest-serving ruler of Russia since Ivan the Terrible.
In a matter of days, the reform was rushed through the State Duma, signed off by the President, and rubber stamped by the Russian constitutional court. Only one thing remains to be done to complete the Putin plan – to put the changes to a "national vote". That was supposed to take place on April 22, the anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birthday. But Mr. Putin was forced to call it off because of the coronavirus crisis. Does it matter? The referendum has no legal status: it is a fig-leaf to give the move more political legitimacy. But precisely for that reason, Putin has made it clear it is not cancelled, but merely postponed.