Putin Power Runs Eternal
CBJ — In what amounts to a massive constitutional reform, the Russian parliament has approved allowing President Vladimir Putin to remain in power for another 12 years after his current term ends in 2024. By the year 2036 Putin will be 83.
The lower house Duma within the Kremlin endorsed the sweeping change in provisions. The vote was 283-0 with 43 abstentions. It was then approved in the upper house Federation Council immediately afterwards.
A nationwide vote on the proposed amendments is set for April 22.
Kremlin critics condemned the move as a cynical manipulation and called for protests, which are expected to formulate within two weeks. Some critics see the move as nothing short of dictatorial on the part of Putin.
Putin, a 67-year-old former KGB officer, has led Russia for more than 20 years. After serving for two consecutive four-year terms — a limit outlined in the current version of the constitution — Putin shifted to become prime minister in 2008, with his close friend Dmitry Medvedev becoming a puppet president. However, it was widely known Putin remained the real power broker behind the scenes.
The length of the presidency was extended to six years under Medvedev, and in 2012 Putin returned to the Kremlin as president. In 2018, he was re-elected for another six years.
To say this increases the power of the presidency would be a massive understatement. Again, those who are opposed see very little difference between Putin’s power and that of a dictator, who essentially retains power for life without so much as an admission of it being the case.
Opposition groups plan a huge protest in Moscow on March 21. However, that may be quashed as Moscow City Hall has banned all large outdoor events of more than 5,000 in attendance due to COVID-19 concerns.