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Russia
 
  Putin came once-and-for-all...

Darius Varanavičius, political scientist, executive editor of the magazine "The State"
2007 05 05

In view of the approaching presidential and parliamentary elections the Russian political powers and representatives of academic layers try to anticipate who will take over the wheel of the state from V. Putin‘s hands.

Chairman of Federal Council (FC) S. Mironov supports the idea of extension of the presidential term.  S. Mironov substantiated his idea by proposals received from regions: three regions of the Russian Federation have fully supported this idea, another six approved it although have not yet sent official confirmations. According to chairman of the Federal Council, „the most important thing is that so far I haven’t received a single negative answer“.

The fact, that the above statement has come from lips of S. Mironov, who is loyal to the regime but not attributed to the favorites, indicates possible explorations of the Kremlin. In terms of the extension of the presidential term, the ones surrounding the current president are more concerned about the response of key political and business elite groupings than about the opinion of the nation.

The above initiative should also be evaluated within the context of relationship of Russia and the West. Will the Kremlin decide to amend the Constitution and open the road to V. Putin‘s third term (especially in view of retaining good relationship with the largest European countries and the United States)? On the other hand, Moscow has already demonstrated to Europe that problems could be solved with the help of pipes, and friendship with Washington could be sustained via struggle against terrorism.

Besides, the Kremlin can state that constitutional reform (providing for the extension of the presidential term to 7 years and validation of three terms) is an issue of internal policy prohibiting interference of foreign states.

It would be okay if the idea to extend V. Putin‘s powers was suggested by V. Zhirinovski. Then the politician could be blamed for his impulsiveness and no one would consider this as a serious political signal. S. Mironov’s involvement in the elaboration of draft amendment of Constitution is a very important implication indicating that clans of the Kremlin cannot divide spheres of influence and have no common future scenario. Consequently, retention of V. Putin in power would be quite a good compromise.

A possibility to retain the current president in power depends not only on the will of regions, society or political clans. Quite a big part of the capital of the current political regime emerged due to favorable global economic circumstances, especially due to high oil and gas prices. However, any minor price fluctuation in the world markets could shake the myth of the Russian economic welfare (as if created by V. Putin), and then threats of B. Berezovski of a new revolution would become quite realistic.

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