Endless speculations about who is going to be next Russia’s president are officially over. Russian puppet president Medvedev has just dropped the bomb by “proposing” for Putin to became new prisidental candidate from the Russia’s main party “United Russia” during its annual congress.
Considering convenient changes to russian constitution that were made recently which increased president’s term from 4 to 6 years, that pretty much guaranteew that Putin will be both de-juro and de-facto ruler of Russia for the next 12 years at least.
Unless Putin would suddenly decide to step down at some point in the future (highly unlikely, to put it mildly), there is no political power in Russia capable of not even challenging, but simply inconveniencing his grip on power. With all russian TV channels and newspapers firmly under government control, and with Khodorkovski rotting in prison for almost a decade as an example for what will happen to anybody who dares to challenge Putin, no businessmen are going to support any russian opposition party out of fear of government retaliation. While government has pretty much unlimited financial and PR resources in its disposal, backed by state-controlled oil and gas companies and high oil&gas prices. And democratic opposition in Russia is heavily represssed by the government.
So much for the dream of democracy in Russia. :(
These news are not surprising by any means - in fact even 4 years ago when Medvedev became russian president, that future scenario with Putin coming back in 4 years was considered by many people (including myself) to be most likely future. But it is still very dissapointing…
I wonder if that was what Medvedev wanted to do. There was a lot of speculation that he wanted to keep the job, but maybe he decided that at best he’d end up like Khrushchev, resigning “for reasons of health” so that Putin could come back.
That well has been dry for a long time now, though, probably since just after Putin took office originally and Russians got to contrast his brand of pseudo-democratic authoritarianism with Yeltsin’s chaotic ineptitude. As bad as Putin is (which is pretty damn bad), he’s also very, very smart, and there’s really no denying that life is far better for most Russians under his rule than under the only democracy they’ve ever experienced. Him being officially president-for-life instead of just practically president-for-life is, as you say, probably not much of a surprise to anybody.
I am not sure about it, but honestly it is not really relevant. For 4 years Medvedev has been doing nothing except saying right liberal words in interviews and in speeches, but he was all words and absolutely no action. If anything during his time the democracy in Russia continued to slide backward.
In fact overall during his time as russian president he did much more harm then good, because by denying and covering all type of ugly stuff that has been happening in Russia all these years, while presenting friendly and politically-correct face to the world, he substantially reduced the international pressure on russian pseudo-democratic and authoritarian government. Which was exactly the reason why Putin made him a president in the first place - he needed someone to fool the West. Of course it helped that West was quite happy to be fooled - and having Medvedev as a president allowed world liberal leaders to negotiate with Russia more easily according to their own national interest while disregarding all types of human right violations by russian government. It’s all realpolitik… >;(
All and all - over the years it became very clear that Medveded was never anything other then willing puppet for Putin. So what he wanted or not wanted in regards to his possible future presidency is irrelevant. Only one person has always been calling the shots during these last 4 year of Medvedev’s presidency - “prime-minister” Putin . And all these discussions about Medvedev breaking his chains and becoming independent of Putin was always nothing more but wishful thinking on parts of naive western observers and few elements of the repressed russian opposition… >:(
Except that most of the russian population do not realize that huge part of the reason for this “better life” under Putin comparable to Yeltsin time is the fact that Putin has been unbelievably lucky - the beginning of his presidency coincided with skyrocketing world prices for oil and gas. These prices went into stratosphere and stayed there ever since. While during Yeltsin years oil and gas were dirt cheap. And oil and gas just happened to be 90% of the russian export…
That’s the real reason for russian economic prosperity and “russian miracle”. And Putin is smart enough to make sure that part of this enormous wealth is spend on populist projects too keep most of the russian population content and disinterested in politics.
Even after all these years and all the talk (by both Medvedev and Putin) about diversifying russian economy, the Russian economy is still enormously dependent on export of oil and gas. Of course, I don’t believe that oil and gas prices are going down anytime soon - the oil and gas worldwide reserves are shrinking while demand is growing even despite sluggish world economy - which means if anything the prices will go up in the long term. And that in turn makes the future of Putin’s authoritarian government absolutely secure… :(
Putin is the kind of guy who would have risen to the top in any authoritarian system. If the USSR had survived I’m sure it would be General Secretary Putin right now, after his successful tenure as head of the KGB.
Well, “stagnation and irrelevance” is not really the case here to be honest. Thanks to its enourmous reserves of oil and gas, not to mention nukes and veto power in UN among other factors, both US and Europe has to take Russia quite seriously. Hell, even Cameron has been making nice with Medvedev and Putin in Moscow just a week ago, despite russian special agents killing Britan citizen (and Putin’s critic) in the middle of London with radioactive palonium just few years ago.
In Australia we had the same Prime Minister from 1949 to 1966 (Sir Robert Menzies) the second longest serving (also a conservative) was John Howard from 1996 to 2007. So seventeen and eleven years respectively, is this a sign of tyranny or stability?
I am not saying that Putin isn’t a despot, I am just saying that there seems to be this knee jerk reaction by US citizens in regard to term limits and that if you don’t have them disaster will ensue.