Russian President Vladimir Putin has not ruled out running for president again beyond 2024, when his term ends.
But he told parliament that the Constitutional Court would first have to approve such a step. An MP has proposed “resetting to zero” the number of presidential terms.
Mr Putin, 67, could potentially stay in power until 2036, by winning two more six-year terms.
The former Soviet KGB officer has been in power for 20 years.
Mr Putin however rejected as “not expedient” a different proposal that would simply lift the current prohibition on a president serving more than two consecutive terms.
By serving as prime minister in 2008-2012, Mr Putin remained at the pinnacle of power without violating the two-term rule. His close ally Dmitry Medvedev was president for those four years.
The amendments addressed by Mr Putin in his televised speech on Tuesday were put forward by MP Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space and a strong supporter of his presidency. Most MPs in parliament – the State Duma – are pro-Putin.
Russia will hold a “public vote” on 22 April to decide if constitutional changes will go ahead. They could significantly alter the balance of power between the presidency and parliament.
The “reset to zero” proposal would, according to Mr Putin, mean “removing the restriction for any person, any citizen, including the current president, and allowing them to take part in elections in the future, naturally in open and competitive elections”.
It could go ahead if approved by citizens in the public vote on 22 April, he said, and “if the Constitutional Court rules such an amendment would not go against (the constitution)”.
That amendment has now been approved by the Duma.
Vladimir Putin had denied, several times, that he wanted to stay on in power. So he did his best to appear reluctant to accept this proposal, framing it as a demand ‘from below’.
Even so, he stressed the need for stability at a “tumultuous” time, suggesting that Russia is not developed enough yet for a change of president.
Many people won’t have a problem with that. If they don’t actually like Mr Putin, they don’t mind him too much either. Plenty of people view him as a strong leader who stands up to the West. Talk of there being no alternative is also commonplace.
But this move is not without risk for the Kremlin. It now looks like the entire constitutional reform process was about ensuring Mr Putin’s future, and that gives the opposition something concrete to rally against.
The last time he schemed to stay in power, engineering a temporary job-swap with his prime minister, there were mass street protests. Mr Putin’s critics are now facing the prospect of him staying in office into his 80s.