- Jul 2011
Putin already beginning the machinations to allow him to retain power in 2024:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed changes to the constitution that critics say clear the way for him to remain the country’s leader-for-life.
In a nationally televised state-of-the-nation speech on Wednesday, Mr. Putin laid out constitutional moves that would lessen the powers of the presidency and strengthen the power of the country’s parliament. Crucially, parliament – which is dominated by the United Russia party that Mr. Putin founded – would choose the prime minister and cabinet, rather than the directly elected president.
"The president would be obliged to appoint them [the parliament's choices for prime minister and other cabinet posts] to these jobs," Mr. Putin said. "He would not be allowed to reject candidates confirmed by parliament."
Under the current constitution, the 67-year-old Mr. Putin is barred from running for the presidency again when his current term expires in 2024. In 2008, Mr. Putin went around the constitutional prohibition on presidents serving three consecutive terms by shifting to the prime minister’s office for four years while his ally Dmitry Medvedev was elected to the presidency. Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev swapped jobs again in 2012.
Sitting next to Mr. Putin, Mr. Medvedev announced on state television Wednesday that his government is resigning to give the President room to carry out his proposed constitutional changes.
Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, quickly accused Mr. Putin – who has ruled Russia as President or Prime Minister since August, 1999 – of trying to cling to power. “Remaining the sole leader for life, taking ownership of an entire country, and appropriating wealth to himself and his friends is the only goal of Putin and his regime,” Mr. Navalny wrote on Twitter after Mr. Putin’s speech.
Sergey Utkin, the head of strategic analysis at the Moscow-based Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said that it wasn’t yet clear whether Mr. Putin intended to return to the prime minister’s job again in 2024. Mr. Utkin said Mr. Putin might instead choose to head the State Council, a Kremlin body that also stands to gain undefined new powers under Mr. Putin’s proposed constitutional changes.
“The bottom line is he is trying to establish a somewhat less president-centric system of checks and balances that would let him leave the presidency but keep the control package,” Mr. Utkin told The Globe and Mail. “The head of this State Council could have real leverage. He could also exert influence through the political party and governors. As always, these kind of changes are somewhat risky, even for Putin, but I think he believes dying of age in the presidential office is not a good way either.”
Mr. Putin said the public should be given the opportunity to vote on the changes in a referendum that the Kremlin signalled could happen quickly. Russia’s Central Election Commission said Wednesday that a plebiscite could be organized “at any time, once the proposals are finalized.”
While sitting next to Putin on state TV, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned on Wednesday to give the president room to ‘make all necessary decisions’
Observers are watching for clues as to how he might reform the political system before his current presidential term ends.
The move will give Putin room to carry out changes he wants to make to the constitution, the prime minister said.
Russia's government has resigned just hours after President Vladimir Putin used his annual state-of-the-nation speech to call for broad changes to the constitution that would strengthen parliament's powers ahead of the end of his term in 2024.