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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Churov Says President Will Step Down Next Year

The new Central Elections Commission chief believes that President Vladimir Putin will leave when his term ends next year and that Putin never makes mistakes, Kommersant reported Monday.

"It seems to me that a third term is impossible for him," Vladimir Churov told the newspaper. "For him, this is an enormous load, an enormous job that has been done over the past eight years, which makes him consider changing his occupation."

Although his job requires impartiality and commitment to democratic principles, Churov made no secret of his devotion to Putin and his longing for a monarchy in Russia.

Asked to comment on news reports that his first rule was that Putin was always right, Churov said it was not merely a rule but his "first law." He said Putin "has no equals among world leaders" when it comes to "real popularity ratings."

Churov, who is to oversee national parliamentary elections this fall and the presidential vote next spring, also said: "Monarchy is eternal as an idea."

He conceded, however, that it "would probably be impossible" to restore monarchy in Russia.

The elections chief, who served under Putin in St. Petersburg's City Hall in the 1990s, sidestepped questions about changes to electoral law that promise to strengthen the hand of pro-Kremlin parties.

But he said he would advocate at least one change: banning journalists from taking close-up photographs of transparent ballot boxes.