By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW – The Kremlin denounced as “absurd” on Friday a resolution proposed by U.S. lawmakers to stop recognising Vladimir Putin as Russia’s president if he stays in power after 2024, and described it as U.S. meddling in Russian affairs.
Putin’s term as president is due to end in 2024 and he can seek two more terms under constitutional amendments made during his presidency. Under the previous constitutional limits, he would have been barred from running again.
The resolution introduced by two U.S. congressmen says the amendments were illegal and any attempt by Putin to remain in office after May 2024 “shall warrant nonrecognition on the part of the United States,” according to a statement on the website of Congressman Steve Cohen, one of the lawmakers behind it.
“Every time we think there is nothing more absurd, aggressive, unfriendly and unconstructive that can come from that side of the ocean, and every time we are wrong unfortunately,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“This is a perfect demonstration not only to Russia, but to all the countries of the world that the United States officially interferes in the internal affairs of other countries.”
Peskov said it was up to Russians to choose their president, and that Russian lawmakers were likely to retaliate.
Konstantin Kosachev, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the resolution was “a provocation designed to disrupt the nascent normalisation of bilateral relations.”
“This time the Americans have started meddling in the presidential elections rather early on,” he wrote on Facebook.
Putin on Thursday described Russian-U.S. ties as “unsatisfactory” but said he was open to dialogue. The Kremlin has raised the possibility of a second summit between Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden.
Putin, who is 69 and has been in power as president or prime minister since the turn of the century, has not said whether he plans to run again in 2024.