Vladimir Putin will be 83 years old by 2036 and would have already broken Stalin’s record looking to overtake Peter the Great, the Tsar who ruled Russia for 43 long years till his death in 1725
Vijay Srinivas | Bengaluru
Men may come and men may go but Vladimir Putin may still be a constant in the global power structure. That’s how the splendid Alfred Lord Tennyson would have written his magnum opus work, ‘The Brook’ for the 21st century and maybe, he would have to rename it forcibly as ‘The Putin’ too. After successfully introducing constitutional changes followed by a referendum in Russia, President Vladimir Putin is all set to remain in power till 2036.
Putin will be 83 years old by then he would have already broken Stalin’s record and will look to overtake Peter the Great, the Tsar who ruled Russia for 43 long years till his death in 1725.
The controversial vote
Putin won the so-called referendum to amend the constitution, paving the way to strip the two presidential term limits amid critics alleging that the voting was rigged. According to the election commission, the turnout was around 68 per cent out of which 77.92 per cent voted in favour of making alterations to the constitution while 21.26 per cent were against the changes. The referendum was also aimed at a plethora of other amendments including pension and minimum wage boosts, reorganisation of the government, ban on gay marriage, restricting Russian top brass from holding dual citizenships, mentioning “faith in God” as a core value in the constitution and steps to preserve the Russian language and history.
The Kremlin wishes
wishes to stay in power is not which has been hidden from the world. Ever since being inducted into politics by Boris Yeltsin, Putin has been rising leaps and bounds. Political scientists in Moscow had been working on plans to keep Putin in power post-2024 when his current term ends. After several rounds of discussions and debates, Valentina Tereshkova, the representative of the United Russia party in the State Duma (Russian Parliament) came out with the proposal to make changes in the constitution.
From intelligence Tszar to forever President
Before joining politics, Putin was one of the most influential personalities in the world of intelligence, having served with the KGB for over 16 years, the Lieutenant Colonel was brought back to Russia by Yelstin and made the head of the newly formed Federal Security Service (FSB), making him the Tszar of security and intelligence. He was then promoted to be Prime Minister under Yelstin in 1999.
Putin became the President of Russia in 2000 and served two consecutive terms. Russia’s constitution has no provisions for the President to face elections after two consecutive terms paving way for Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s aide to rise to power. Putin remained in the scene clutching on to power serving as Prime Minister under Medvedev. He came back as the head of the Russian Federation as Medvedev moved out. Putin who is in his second stint as President will face election again in 2024. The new constitution will come into play in the next election making him extend his time frame for another 12 years.
Interestingly, the changes had already been cleared by the Parliament and the Supreme Court even before the voting. Kremlin went out for vote clearly to gain popular mandate. The voting was initially planned in April but the pandemic delayed the process. Russia is still reeling under the impact of the deadly coronavirus with more than 675,000 cases.
Challenges knocking on Moscow’s door
Putin’s days in office, however, are not going to be a cakewalk. Bringing back Russia out of the already slowing economy and the GDP that’s expected to shrink by 6.6 per cent this year will be a huge challenge.
As far as foreign policy is concerned, Russia’s relationship with the West is in a state of turmoil. The country’s military role in Ukraine had pushed the EU and the US to impose sanctions in 2014, which are still in effect. The allegations of interfering in the US Presidential elections have worsened Russia’s stance in the west despite personal chemistry between Putin and Trump. Countries have accused Putin of helping pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, which Moscow has rejected and maintained that it sent “volunteers” to help rebels in Ukraine. Considering Russia’s role in the so-called ‘war on terror’ in the Middle East, the status of Russia-backed-Syrian government remains unchanged as the crisis deepens further.
Domestically, opposition leader Alexi Navalny poses a huge challenge for Putin. Navalny had been organizing several anti-Putin rallies across Russia. While was barred from running for office in 2018 over his conviction by a court of embezzlement, Navalny said, “it’s a huge lie and it doesn’t reflect public opinion”.
However, the referendum will go a long way in building an image of a transparent government, while Putin tightens his grip in and around Kremlin.