Communist Party presidential candidate Pavel Grudinin has promised to reduce the limit on presidential terms and cut presidential expenses paid by the state by 90 percent, should he claim victory in the March vote.
“Not ‘two consecutive terms,’ we should get rid of the word ‘consecutive.’ The president must remain in office for two terms and no more. The word ‘consecutive’ must be removed [from the Constitution],” Grudinin said on Friday as he spoke to press in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, which the candidate is visiting on his campaign tour.
Currently, the Russian Constitution allows the same person to run for the presidency for an unlimited number of terms on one condition – there can be no more than two consecutive terms. Incumbent President Vladimir Putin was first elected in 2000 and was reelected for a second term in 2004, but could not run again in 2008 and became prime minister under President Dmitry Medvedev. In 2012, the condition about consecutive terms was not applicable and Putin again took part in the election and won.
At the same press conference, Grudinin told reporters that he wanted a 10-fold reduction in official presidential expenses and stricter control over them. “It is necessary to do something that will put the president under control. We need first of all to put him under control and also make all his friends and relatives understand that one day an agency that is above the president will come to them and check all their contracts without any exceptions,” he said. “In cases when some law is violated or if there is conflict of interests, not only the deals must be canceled but also the president must be impeached,” the candidate added.
Grudinin also commented on his previous membership in pro-Putin centrist conservative party United Russia. He said United Russia used to be very different, but gradually became too involved in corruption, which he believes is confirmed by the numerous trials of senior regular officials. He added that he expected a large number of United Russia members to vote for him “because they are also tired of corruption and poverty.”
In comments on the fact that he is not a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which is formally supporting his candidacy in the March 18 election, Grudinin said that “it is not important what party certificate you hold, what is important is how you see yourself.”
The press conference and meeting with potential voters were marred by a minor clash. According to Kommersant daily, soon after the start two young men in the audience raised a slogan reading “Grudinin is a traitor of his nation,” provoking a minor brawl with the surrounding public. However, they were soon apprehended and handed over to police officers.