The resignation of the Russian Cabinet has paved the way for his plans to stay on in power beyond 2024
Vladimir Putin has now become the longest serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin. No matter what opinion one may have of the current Russian leader with regard to the way he has ridden roughshod over any and all opposition, prima facie he is a lot nicer than Stalin, a man revered by the Communists in India, who was also one of the greatest mass murderers in history. Unlike Stalin, Putin also has to worry about a small thing called a Constitution. But after a shock decision by the Russian Cabinet to resign on Wednesday, it is clear that Putin will remain in charge well beyond 2024 when his second eight-year stint as Russian President will come to a close. And to do so, he will need to reform the Constitution. It’s worth noting that his Cabinet resigned not in a manner of protest but to make his life easier. After all, his long-time aide, former President and newly-resigned Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, was not expected to do anything but that. How Putin will structure his continued reign remains to be seen. Will he become the head of the State Council or amend the Constitution to ensure he remains President indefinitely?
However, unlike Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, too, made a power grab and changed the rules in the People’s Republic of China, Putin’s task is far tougher. First, unlike China, Russia is at least a quasi-democracy. The past three years have seen constant protests against Putin as Western sanctions against Russia have begun to bite. His claims that he is hearing the clamour for reforms within the country and that is what is prompting these “reforms” is, therefore, debatable. But more Putin also means that he will remain a major figure on the global stage. His intervention in Syria and Iran are of grave concern to the US and other Western nations. At the same time, he has made it very clear that he wants to see a revival of Russia’s international power, wants it to be a nation with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world and one that continues to develop new weapons technology. Russia punches well above its economic heft in the world. With Putin in charge, it possibly punches a weight category even higher. While many in Washington DC, London and other Western capitals would be glad to see the back of the man, these new reforms mean that he is not going away anytime soon unless the Russians want him to.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)