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Vladimir Putin hasn't decided against seeking a fourth presidential term in 2018, though he said in an interview published Sunday that he thought being Russia's leader indefinitely was "not good and detrimental for the country."
Putin could be in the middle of his re-election campaign while Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup — a moment on the world stage that he may see as an opportunity to increase his reputation as rebuilder of the Russian Empire amid the electorate.
"Yes, there is a possibility of my nomination for a new term," he told the state news agency TASS. "Yes it (Constitution) indeed allows but it does not mean that I will make such (a) decision." When asked whether the president's chair was with him "forever," Putin told TASS: "No," adding: "This is not good and detrimental for the country and I do not need it as well."
Putin, who was president from 2000 to 2008 and won re-election in 2012, served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012. Presidential terms were changed from four to six years in 2008 by an amendment to the country's constitution.
The 2012 ballot was marred by serious problems, including voter fraud, according to Golos, Russia's leading independent elections watchdog, but Putin hailed his win as preventing the country from falling into the hands of enemies. If Putin ran for office in 2018 and won, he will have led the country for 24 of the 33 years since the fall of the Soviet Union.
"I know that I have sincerely served and keep serving, and I do everything possible to realize myself in this," he told TASS. "But I repeat that clutching at something is counterproductive, detrimental and in no way interesting."
Putin's remarks come at a low point in relations with the West over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. The European Union and the U.S. have placed sanctions on Russia for the move.
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— Miranda Leitsinger