The centenary of Russia's 1917 February Revolution sparked a debate on restoring the monarchy within Russia's conservative circles. The head of the recently annexed Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, was one the most outspoken pro-Kremlin political figures denigrating democracy and advocating a monarchy for Russia. Aksyonov's candidate for this lifelong post is Russian President Vladimir Putin
Aksyonov declared: "We do not need the kind of democracy presented by Western media outlets. We have our own traditional, Russian-Orthodox, spiritual values. I think Russia, at the moment, needs monarchy... To my mind, democracy is superfluous these days, given the current circumstances and the presence of an external enemy. I do not mean democracy the way it is understood by normal people but all-permissiveness, as many interpret the democratic system... Why do I call myself a soldier of the president? Because I think that we need undivided authority as long as there is an external enemy the resident should have more rights – including, pardon me, the right of dictatorship." 
Pro-Kremlin philosopher Alexander Dugin stressed that monarchy is the best form of government for Russia, but the monarchy's restoration should be done only within the context of a global conservative revolution. Commenting on the issue, the LDPR party leader and presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that the monarchy is not really needed, since Russia's current president enjoys more powers than the Tsar. However, according to Zhirinovsky, the President should become a Supreme Leader, general elections should be cancelled, and an "assembly of the best Russians" should elect the President who would then appoint governors.
On November 11, 2016, renowned Russian scholar Valery Solovei said that as part of a large-scale constitutional reform, allegedly being prepared by the authorities, Putin is preparing himself to assume the post of State Council chairman. Solovei said: "According to the new model under discussion, the president will have mostly ritual and representative functions. Possibly, he will try to patch up relations with the West. But real power will be in the hands of the head of the State Council, a post that Putin, naturally, will assume. At the moment, the State Council is a consultative and extra-constitutional organ, that's why a constitutional reform is needed." He then added: "Under the current power system, a constitutional reform is a task more technical than conceptual. If the Kremlin wishes, it could be done at a very swift rate. The problem is of a different kind – to explain what's going on to the elite and to the public. For changes of this kind can potentially [make] mass consciousness schizophrenic. People will no longer understand who is the country's leader, which czar, so to speak, is the real one [a reference to a popular Soviet cult movie, 'Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession', where an impostor impersonates a czar]. All the intra-elite communications that have been built over dozens of years will be broken'... That is, the risks are colossal. And this is probably the main obstacle on the way to early elections and changing the form of government."
Commenting on the debate on restoration of the monarchy, presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that Putin "is not enthusiastic about such ideas". Peskov then added: "Over the past five years he has been asked more than once about that and he was forced to answer such questions in this or that context. He has a very cold attitude to such discussions. This is well-known."
Below are excerpts from article, titled "Is Monarchy Not Only The Past But The Future Of Russia?, published on the Orthodox-nationalist Tsargrad TV channel website:
Head Of Crimean Republic: 'Today… Russia Needs Monarchy'
"On March 15, 100 years ago exactly, Russia lost its Tsar. On this day in 1917 (March 2 according to the old style [calendar]), the last Emperor Nicholas II was deposed by force. A century later, when the consequences of this tragedy have been lived through and internalized, the issue of return to the monarchic form of government is becoming more relevant. This issue is articulated not only by politicians, but also by public and cultural figures.
"Thus, the head of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, spoke yesterday [March 14, 2017] about the possibility of restoration of the monarchy. In his opinion, the Western democratic model is alien to Russia. And if one takes into account the serious external challenges, more tough measures should be undertaken, and single authority is necessary, which will put an end to collective irresponsibility. 'Today, in my opinion, Russia needs monarchy,' the Crimean leader emphasized.
"Aksyonov is convinced that the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin, deserves to hold this office without term limits. Under Putin's personal patronage, many projects have been successfully implemented within the established deadlines in Crimea during the three years since the peninsula's reunification with Russia. In particular, it is thanks to the president that it was possible to cope with the crisis resulting from the energy blockade of Crimea by the Kiev regime. Aksyonov has emphasized that Putin won the utmost confidence of the Crimeans, which no Ukrainian president had ever had. 'Today, practically in every family people raise a glass to the president, drink to his health; they realize that Russia's very future depends on how long Vladimir Vladimirovich will rule the country,' added the head of Crimea.
"In the Kremlin, Aksyonov's statement was met with reserve. According to the president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, Putin has mixed feelings about the restoration of monarchy. At the same time, anyone is entitled to express his personal opinion.
Pro-Kremlin Philosopher Dugin: 'Either Monarchy, Or The Modern World'
"Russian philosopher and sociologist, leader of the International Eurasia Movement, Aleksandr Dugin pays considerable attention to the ideological aspects of the possible restoration of monarchy in modern society. In his opinion, monarchy is the best form of government for Russia, but one can speak about its restoration only in the context of a global conservative revolution. Otherwise, it may turn into some post-modern caricature and a blasphemous monstrosity. 'My conclusion is as follows: either monarchy, or the modern world. In order to restore it in Russia and not turn the great spiritual institution into a farce, what we need is a fundamental re-thinking of all life's foundations [and] a return to the traditional worldview, to the Orthodox religion, to the concept of class society. We need to completely reconsider all our ideas about man, the world, life, space, history, environment,' says Dugin.
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Tsargrad TV Expert: 'The Problem Is That When The Monarch Proves Himself Incapable… It Is Impossible To Replace Him'
"The principal advantage of monarchy is that it compels the rulers of the country to care about its future and think long-term in order to hand over the country to their descendants in the best condition, says the columnist and political consultant, expert of the Tsargrad TV channel, Anatoly Vasserman. The problem arises when the monarch proves himself incapable of solving federal problems on a state-wide scale, it is impossible to replace him with a more competent one.
"The expert is certain that it is not difficult to restore monarchy in Russia, since most of the country's citizens support the activity of the president Vladimir Putin and obviously don't mind him continuing on to occupy this post. But, taking into account the fact that Putin, like any other man, is not immortal, and sooner or later the question of a successor will surface, Vasserman believes that under the circumstances, future, an elected head of state is preferable for Russia in the foreseeable future."
MP Milonov: 'When There Is A Strong Leader, We Always Win'
"A similar idea was articulated in an interview to the Tsargrad channel by the member of the State Duma Vitaly Milonov. In the popular representative's opinion, one should avoid talking about the restoration of monarchy in terms of transfer ring control to the numerous descendants and heirs of the Romanov dynasty. None of them has sufficient rights to succeed to the throne. It's a different story when we are talking about monarchy as a form of rule, when a strong leader – the monarch – exists.
"'In essence, I do not oppose our power structure's being de facto a constitutional monarchy. When there is a strong leader, we always win, and when there is a hesitant leader, democracy, liberalism, parliamentary rule – there is always fragmentation and tragedy,' emphasized Milonov.
Columnist Yegor Kholmogorov: Monarchic Rule Is Optimal For Russia
Columnist and editor-in-chief of [the online conservative media outlet] Russky Obozrevatel Yegor Kholmogorov also pointed out two important aspects of the idea of restoring monarchy in Russia – a matter of principle and a question of personnel. The first boils down to the fact that the monarchic rule is the best for our country and could be restored. The second question is who becomes the monarch under the circumstances when no legitimate representatives from among the Romanov dynasty's heirs exists. The expert thinks that this issue should be treated with utmost responsibility and should be decided by the nation. 'It is impermissible that a farce made up by some opportunists be imposed on Russia under the guise of monarchy,' said Kholmogorov in his interview to Tsargrad.
'Unconstructive Criticism' – Opposition Politician Gozman: 'The Absence Of The Future Is Compensated By Insanity'
"Undoubtedly, the idea of restoration of monarchy as one of the most acceptable forms of government for Russia, is debatable and has both its supporters and its opponents. It is unsurprising that Crimea head Sergey Aksyonov's statement provoked a storm of indignation from a certain part of the public. And some of its representatives, in the absence of constructive criticism, did not mince their expressions, to the point of personal insults.
"Former [opposition] leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) Party, Leonid Gozman wrote on his Facebook page: 'In any society, there are people wishing to restore the monarchy, establish theocracy, make everybody worship the God of Fire, or just idiots without political aspirations. As in any organism, there are all kinds of microbes. The problem lies not in the wise pronouncements of Aksyonov the Goblin, but in the fact that they are discussed. The microbe has become active, the society is sick. Insanity compensates for the absence of a future.'
The well-known journalist Sergey Dorenko has called Aksyonov and his 'Russian Spring' supporters 'the brake of Crimea' [the Russian word for brake also has the slang connotation of 'slowpoke, thick person']. He also attacked Natalia Poklonskaya, the former prosecutor of Crimea, a current member of the State Duma, Natalia Poklonskaya, famous for her steadfast pro-monarchy views.
"'Firstly, simply because they are ridiculously provincial and foolish, and don't measure up to the scale of challenges before them. They are all a variation of Madam Poklonskaya, and this is obvious from Aksyonov's latest interview, where he speaks in great detail about the special Orthodox path of Russia, about monarchy and the desirability of dictatorship… Aksyonov is a hero and all that, but he sounds like a foolish provincial,' said Dorenko.
Tsargrad TV Economist Pronko: 'The Liberals' Are Afraid That Monarchy Will Eject Them To The Wrong Side Of History
"The anchor of the Real Time program on the Tsargrad TV channel, economist Yuri Pronko reacted to the detractors. 'I wonder why those 'liberals and the creative class of intelligentsia' are so wary, or maybe even frightened of monarchy in Russia. Japan, Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain are monarchies! And it's all right, they are leaders both in industry and in welfare,' the expert notes. 'I think there is a different reason: the so-called freedom-lovers are afraid to find themselves on the wrong side of history,' continues Pronko. 'After all, all their pathos boils down to one thing – earning money on political manipulations. They sat upon their bottoms for decades, created their media, consulting firms and urine analysis centers for one purpose only: circulating money in the interests of… no matter in whose interests! In the interests of whoever coughs up the money. That's why they shudder at the mere thought of monarchy. The money will be gone, and they will have nothing to eat.'
"According to the expert, monarchy is the back bone of the Russian civilization, and it is necessary to restore what is intrinsic to our nation. 'The sniveling and squeals of the liberals should be sent to the backyard of history, which is the right place for this political junk!' Pronko concluded."
 Interfax.ru, March 14, 2017.
 Interfax.ru, March 15, 2017.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6698, Russian Daily Mk.ru Removed Interview With Renowned Scholar Valery Solovei Predicting That 'It Is Not Unlikely That [Putin] Will Have To Be Absent From The Public Spotlight For A Few Months', December 2, 2016.
 Tass.com, March 15, 2017; Rbc.ru, March 15, 2017.
 Tsargrad.tv, March 15, 2017. The article was authored by Dmitry Pavlenko. Pro-Kremlin philosopher Alexander Dugin is editor-in-chief of the Orthodox-nationalist Tsargrad TV station.
Vitaly Milonov, known for his campaigning against 'gay propaganda', is a former member of St. Petersburg legislative assembly and author of the St. Petersburg law banning the "propagandizing of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors". He became a member of the State Duma for United Russia in the 18 September elections. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6667, Member Of The State Duma International Committee Milonov: 'Clinton Is A Cursed Witch! That's Why Even A Funny Guy Like Donald Trump Looks More Normal', November 6, 2016.
 Yegor Kholmogorov was named 2014's "Sexist of the Year." The Moscow Times reported: "Kholmogorov… earned the highest number of votes in an online poll conducted by [Russian advocacy group] For Feminism, owing to a particularly incendiary Facebook status update wherein he called for the beatings of certain women of ill repute, while taking for granted the notion that Russia would one day occupy the United States.
"'I think that when we occupy America, [Russians] will publish a secret decree allowing American men who hear the word 'sexism' to punch [women] in the face,' Kholmogorov wrote on his Facebook page in November . 'By uttering the word sexism, a woman ceases to be a woman and becomes a member of the second sex.'" Themoscowtimes.com, March 12, 2015.
 A featured presenter, who quit because he wanted to be his own man rather than Putin's man.