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September 28, 2011 / subramanyam

The return of the tsar ……

Russia, 2023. Putin and Medvedev are sitting in one of their kitchens, drinking and shooting the breeze. “Listen,” slurs Putin. “I’ve lost track again. Which one of us is prime minister, and which is president?”

“You’re the president now, I think,” slurs Medvedev.

“Well,” slurs Putin, “then it’s your turn to go and get more beer.”

          This was one of the famous jokes , that did rounds when Putin decided to honor the Russian constitution ,chose to step down from presidency and handed over the mantle to Medvedev in December 2007. I hated this joke and loathed the people who circulated it , a huge fan of Putin myself(back then) , I was not ready to take any criticism against him.

          On Saturday when Putin announced that he would be running for his third presidential term he has proved his critics correct  and left some of his admirers (like me )baffled.

          If he wins the March 4 election – a near-certainty given his popularity and mastery of Russia’s political system – Putin will return to a presidency even more powerful than when he left. Thanks to the 2008 constitutional amendments, in 2012, the presidential term will be extended to six years from four; he is also eligible to serve two terms which gives him a chance to head Russia till 2024.

          Vladimir Putin has done a lot for Russia , after the chaos of 1990’s and  Boris Yeltsin’s kleptocracy at the Kremlin it was Putin who has put the house in order. It was he, who consolidated and prevented Russia from breaking up further. His moves , though authoritarian, were so popular with the Russian masses that in 2007 around 90% of the country thought he was the best man to head Russia. Probably Russians must have felt that , that amount of authoritarian measures were need to revive a crumbling nation.

          He used the oil reserves of Russia to create the much-needed employment and jobs, this elevated the buying power of ordinary citizens and boosted Putin’s image as a man who brought stability and prosperty to a crisis hit county.His popularity was so high and his measures received such wider acceptance that he was the  TimesMagazine’s person of the year for the year 2007.

Will he rule Russia till 2024?

          However , his announcement that he will return to Kremlin as the President of Russia must leave many of his admirers redfaced.I believe with this act these two men are insulting  Russia’s Democracy  and democratic institutions. Russia’s constitution did not allow Putin to run for a 3rd term in 2008 , he successfully installed his protegé Medvedev  then.It was Medvedev who initiated the constitutional reform in 2008  which is giving Putin a chance to be the president of Russia for a six-year term now. Putin  managed to do what almost nobody thought possible: to find a protégé who would keep his seat warm without trying to usurp it.If this is not a mockery of democratic institutions then what else is ?

          Many people never thought Medvedev was acting on his own , they felt that Putin was the man who was still calling the shots , this time from the prime minister’s office. His recent decision is only confirming their claims and is projecting him as a power-hungry autocrat .

          Some analysts believe that he is only hope of Russia , according to them he is the only person capable of arbitrating between the Kremlin’s rival factions, who are locked in a permanent and exhausting battle for money and influence. Without him, the system would fall apart , they opine.however I cannot subscribe to this argument, a person might be good ,he might be the best available , but tampering constitution to support him /help him is never acceptable. As person with immense faith in democracy and democratic institutions , I consider  tampering democratic institutions and  getting amendments just to keep oneself is power is a heinous crime , after staying in power for about 12 years if one is still wanting more of it ,well, I will not support him.

       “The worst thing that can happen to any democracy is having a person at the helm of affairs for a very long time” . An uninterrupted long rule actually keeps all the fresh ideas at bay , gives the person at the helm of affairs a chance to tamper all democratic and constitutional institutions and brings in an authoritarian regime which loses its touch with the people . The probability of this happening in Russia is increasing .we have seen this happen in the middle east and we have seen how people have ousted Mubaraks and Gadhdhafis from their citadels. I doubt if Putin’s decision now might warrant  one such revolution in Russia in next 6-8 years.

        The reasons for the above doubt of mine are rather simple and clear, people beared with the autocratic and less democratic leaders as long as economies were good and jobs were there .The moment people realised that growth is going southwards , the very same old faithful people rebelled and ousted their rulers forcefully,one of they reasons they told for this was that these leaders were never truly democratic themselves to continue in office.

          On this day Putin is the most popular leader of Russia ,he is not as popular as he was in 2008 but he is the numero uno man of Russia today.As he takes over as the president next year he will be working in a country which desperately needs to diversify its economy from Oil and hydrocarbon industry, he is going to inherit a nation where the corruption weary businessmen are taking the capital out of the country,  a stagnated economy which is slowly falling short of the nations expenses and the dwindling  markets  and pan european recession are going to complicate things further . It would be interesting to see how Putin generates Jobs  and  achieves a healthy growth rate for Russia under these circumstances.Should he fail , the key question shifts from  “whether he intends to stay till 2024”, to “will he be able to stay till 2024?”.



Leave a Comment
  1. Srikrishna Dasu / Sep 28 2011 7:34 pm


    If you think, Putin is a saint from Heaven to repair Russia, You are on dreamland. Just take a look of the amount of wealth he has accumulated during he tenures and the way in which all the budding bussiness has been plucked off in the initial stage itself.

    Though the russian heads say they have dismantled “Oligarchy”, they have completely brought back the old communist rigid rules.

    If you want any further clarifications, read thorugh the book “Putins Oil”


  2. Subramanyam K.V / Sep 28 2011 11:03 pm

    Kris ,Kris
    did you get a feeling that Putin is a saint from this article, oh my…. oh my….. , this was intended to be a piece that criticises him, looks like my writing skills need to improve by leaps and bounds, sorry in case that’s the feeling that’s coming up after this article, This article is specifically to tell you that this man is no saint , he brought in Stability to Russia that can be accepted , but he is saint for the uplifment of Russia no chance, In fact he has belittled himself by saying that he gonna contest again .

    Coming to the corruption charges you were mentioning, one cannot endorse them. at the same time one cannot deny them altogether as well,The truth is only known to God .Well , these charges are always leveled by the western media and mind you Western media has always been critical of Putin from Day1.If you look at the foreign policy of Putin he has always been critical of the west and hence the western media might be very very critical of him, that’s one side of the story. the other side, Putin has a very very autocratic style of functioning and most of the guys who ruled thier nations this way were very very corrupt , so it might be true with Putin also . we cannot rule out either of the possibilities. the very manner in which he is clinging on power might add weight to this argument.

    Lastly coming to the oil “Putin’s Oil” , yes Putin used oil to revive Russia , the western media alleges he made billions for himself here as well, again no one knows the truth , he might have made those billions but again from the Iraq wqr and the treaties west has signed with the new Iraqi establishment ,recent deals in Libya , the fight in Venezuela we know how west deals with people who have oil reserves and don’t buckle to their pressure.


  3. chapter18 / Oct 1 2011 4:02 pm

    Nice post.Some time back Russia had Rusputin now they have Putin.


  4. ranga vamshi / Dec 9 2011 10:47 pm

    about putin’s intention to come back again…i think, one needs to think psychologically than politically…if you love some thing very much, you don’t want it to given away, because you can’t let others take it and makes your mind feel like, will it be taken care properly in others hand when there so money foxes(westerns’s) around here..same is the case with putin..he can’t leave the country into someone’s hands with doubt, bcoz he loves his country like a lover..i think, this(the foxes around) forced them change constitution..however it looks evil for many over here…i support him…


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