A new "emperor": Russia girds for 16 more years of Putin

“The quasi-monarchy that we basically now have is a very good thing,” Mr. Malofeev said at his ornate office on Moscow’s Garden Ring. Referring to Mr. Putin, he went on: “If we were now to start calling him emperor, not president, then we wouldn’t have to change much in the Constitution.”

In a tightly choreographed bit of political theater this week, the 67-year-old Mr. Putin gave himself the option of ruling for two additional six-year terms when his current tenure expires in 2024. Now comes the harder part for the Kremlin: persuading Russians to accept their new czar.

Daria Rtishcheva, a 24-year-old working in the clothing manufacturing business in Moscow, noted that she would be 40 years old in 2036.

“And Putin will still be there,” she said in an interview outside a fashionable Moscow department store. “It drives me a bit crazy.”