Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he had not yet decided whether to run for a new six-year term in the Kremlin when his current term ends in 2024.
Putin has been in power as president or prime minister since the turn of the century, making him the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin. Russia passed reforms last year allowing him to run for two more six-year terms, without which he would have had to step down in 2024.
Speaking at an investment forum in Moscow, the Kremlin leader suggested that the very option of him being able to run for president again had stopped the political system being undermined.
"Whether or not I do this is yet to be decided, but the very existence of this right (to run) is already stabilizing the domestic political situation," he said.
Some analysts have said Putin could have become a "lame duck" president if he had not had the option of running again in 2024.
The issue is highly sensitive for the Kremlin. Earlier this month it denounced as "absurd" meddling a resolution proposed by US lawmakers to stop recognizing Putin as president if he stays in power after 2024.