President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he may seek re-election in 2018 and charted a conservative course drawn from Orthodox Christian values, saying the West was not an example for Russia, reports Reuters. He also defended tough laws he has signed since returning to the Kremlin in May 2012 after four years as prime minister, including legislation critics say in effect bans gays from publicly expressing their sexual orientation. Asked at a conference whether he might seek a new term as president when his six-year mandate expires in 2018, Putin said: "I do not rule it out." Asked by Reuters for clarification, he later said: "It's only 2013 today, there are another five years ahead of us." Putin has been in power since 2000 and a fourth term would keep him there until 2024 - longer than Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's 18-year stay but still short of Josef Stalin's three-decade dictatorship.