State Duma deputies unanimously approved amendments to the constitution (Source: Yuga..ru)
The guessing game is over. Ever since Vladimir Putin was reelected in 2018 to his final constitutionally allotted six year term of office, speculation abounded on how Putin would circumvent presidential term limits. Would Russia and Belarus merge allowing Putin to serve as president of the new political entity? Perhaps Putin would siphon off presidential powers to another institution – the prime minister or the security council – allowing Putin to move to a new power base while bequeathing a hollowed-out presidency to his successor? In the end the solution was simplicity itself: the Russian legislature unanimously accepted an amendment resetting the number of Vladimir Putin's terms in office to zero allowing him theoretically to continue as Russia's president until 2036.
Despite Putin's in your face solution to the constitutional dilemma, the reaction aside from a handful of picket sign holders ranged from resignation to relief. Below are two representative articles that explain the absence of mass protest. The first is by Vladislav Inozemtsev, the director of the Moscow-based Center for Research on Post-Industrial Societies, and the chair at the Department of World Economy, at Moscow State University. The second is by Kommersant columnist Dmitry Drize. Putin, writes Inozemtsev, correctly perceives that people who do not want to be free and respected are unworthy of freedom and respect." Whereas, Drize understands the reassurance that Putin's continued reign provides at a time of multiple crises, but if things are ever to change it is necessary to take advantage of these years to raise popular self-awareness and end the situation that everything is decided by the officials.
Below are the articles by Inozemtsev and Drize
Inozemtsev: Putin Is Worthy Of Praise For Dispensing With Sham Democracy
Vladislav Inozemtsev (Source: Kp.ru)
"As probably my friends and subscribers managed to notice over a number of years, I rarely praise Vladimir Putin. However, today is a very special case. All over the tape are reproaches directed at the president for not even troubling himself with some sort of serious and complex legitimation of his life-long rule, [but instead] simply wiping out [his] presidential terms and wheeling out the promise of indexing pensions and stories about school lunches as decent payment.
"I disagree. In this case, the president is absolutely correct in his choice of tactics. Before whom should he perform "[stylistic Louis XII] Marlezon ballets”? Before a population, which has already chosen him four times, despite the fact that it was impossible to overlook whom you are dealing with? Before the opposition, which is so principled that in order to at least make one of its leaders respected by all the others, he had to be demonstratively killed five years ago? Before the West, that is pensively reflecting on whether Russia really does not have "historical rights" to Ukraine and Belarus?"
Gorbachev Believed In The Russian People And He Is Reviled
"The president is right: people who do not want to be free and respected are unworthy of freedom and respect, and complicated schemes involving elections that they have been allowed to play at since 1996 will be no more. In Russia there has already been one person who believed otherwise - Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev. He believed in the Soviet people, considering him more worthy than it was in fact. Five years of his reign were followed by thirty years of hatred and vilification.
"Putin was able to learn a lesson from this - and therefore he will not leave the Kremlin alive (I remind you that his predecessors in this, Stalin, Brezhnev, who else are there, today are called by Russians the greatest people in the country's history, so why not leave the same memory about yourself).
"Putin knows how to learn, but the majority of Russians do not. That is why events are moving the way they are.
"I would also say that Vladimir Vladimirovich treats his "specially gifted" subjects with understanding - four times he invited them to speak out on whether they support him or not. You can argue about the merits of [A Just Russia leader Sergey] Mironov, [Former Yabloko leader Grigory] Yavlinsky or [Party of Changes leader Ksenia] Sobchak - but you could vote for them. Not in single units, but in millions. Alas.
"Dear Russians: they asked you, you answered. What is the current noise about? Pipe down and enjoy the approaching happiness.
"Putin is smart! I hope that by 2036 he will be able to convince the population that democracy is better than dictatorship. They should learn faster but most likely it will not work..."
Drize: As The Country Was Wracked By Multiple Crises It Was Necessary To Remove Uncertainty
Dmitry Drize (Source: Kommersant.ru)
"It is good that clarity has arrived – this unfortunately, is perhaps the only thing that can be said in this case. Everything else is emotions. Perhaps this was the calculation - to starve a public, worn down by uncertainty. And here is the upshot.
"Whatever the case may be, the grand theater called 'transit of power' is over.
"At least I want to hope so. The oil wars, the fight against world terrorism, the coronavirus onslaught, multiplied by the collapse of the ruble and oil, plus additional political uncertainty or, worse, the political crisis, is too much for one country.
"Therefore, in such a situation, it was decided to stop the guessing game, to freeze the ballyhooed transit for four years. In the coordinate system where we exist, the decision made was correct. It should suit both supporters and opponents of the incumbent president. On the one hand, he can again run for office in 2024, but, on the other, he can also refuse. Some will say: no, it won’t work, how many times, enough. And others: no, it will last forever - until 2036. A few more generations will grow, but all with the same leader of the nation. Well, good – stability is preserved. Both those and others are invited to wait and hope that their scenario [pans out]."
Lame Ducks Can Govern In The US But Not In Russia
"At the same time, we are still promised a change of power, even if not now, maybe after 30-50 years. Although another will say: not everyone will be able to live in this wonderful time. There is a popular political consultancy explanation why Vladimir Putin cannot leave - the so-called inter-elite balance would be destroyed. We need the institution of an arbiter so that different parts of the [power] vertical do not eat each other. Amongst the common people, this is called the 'conflict of the towers'" That aside, the 'lame duck' is not our concept, they have it in America, and even earlier, they ruled without restriction. Incidentally, there is a certain element of humiliation in this: they [the Americans] appear to have developed, but we, it turns out, have not yet grown up. However, our presidents cannot be on their way out. Otherwise, as Vladimir Putin himself said, the officials "will become a pain" - quit working. The elites will be dismayed and, apart from their survival under the new conditions, they will not be able to think about anything.
"What then is the problem? It lies with the voter. He is seemingly alien to this celebration of life. They have thought up everything for him, and now they propose accept it or not. Apparently, up there they are sure that the electorate will not let them down. That is, the word "no" is not provided. The main person in Russia is an official, when it should be the other way around. But if people do not suggest anything, then what does this mean? It means, everything suits him. Receive, sign - here you have a transit and [presidential] terms reset to zero. Comrades, it is necessary to participate more actively in public life, within the framework of the law, of course. The growth of the populace's self-awareness is the main national project. Let a leader come forth, who will support it. This is beneficial for the country, right? That would be the great reformation."