Medvedev’s speech – world misses point

Dmitry Medvedev gives his first annual state of the nation speech, and announces that he’d like to extend the Russian Presidential term from 4 to 6 years. So what does the world’s press write about?

That Russia plans to deploy missiles close to the EU’s border to neutralise the US missile shield. Oh, and that Russia blames America for the war in Georgia.

I know plans for constitutional reform aren’t as sexy as phallic lumps of metal, but I’m baffled at how the world’s media can so spectacularly miss the importance of this. Especially on today, the day that US Presidential politics is reinvigorated by Obama’s election. Sureyly it doesn’t take much imagination for a journalist to draw some parallels between a US democracy that’s on the up, and a Russian democracy that’s on the way down.

How Medvedev’s plan to extend the Russian Presidency from a 4 to a 6 year term could be anything but bad news for Russian democracy is a mystery to me. Seriously – what actual benefits would a six year long Presidency bring over a four year long Presidency? None.

The only reason for doing this is to reduce the need for elections.

Oh, and possibly to ensure that Putin has the option to serve 12 more years as President, if he wants to.

Looking on the bright side though, Medvedev did also announce plans to reduce the threshold for entry into Russia’s parliament from the current 7%. I hope this will go some way towards re-energising Russian politics, but the cynic in me wonders if this is just a devious plan to give small parties like Yabloko an incentive to stay small and squabbling, rather than to see sense and merge.

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4 Responses

  1. Tom Adshead says:

    Fully agree – the Russian market dropped over 5% on the news of the increased term.
    The other thing that really struck me was that Medvedev made this speech on the day Obama got elected. I really think that they understand that Russians will understand that something momentous has changed in America, and that nothing has changed in Russia. As always, though, the Kremlin is so ham-fisted, that it has no idea what message it’s sending, and Medvedev will just look weak by comparison with Obama.

    Tom Adshead´s last blog post..Medvedev’s Presidential Address

  2. Aleks says:

    Or, if real power is being shifted to the role of the PM and MPs and the President it being stripped and becoming more of a ceremonial function.

    Otherwise, this news doesn’t really matter as there still does not seem to be a clear definition of powers between PM and P, at least in the western media.

    Could it actually be real reform?

    If we see that elections for regional governors is to be reinstated , then is seems that it would be the latter, i.e. the regions have been ‘cleaned up’ (through Putin’s delegated governors) and can be trusted to run themselves properly.

    Considering the Kremlin’s almost total domination of politics and control of the Duma, why exactly should they be afraid of more elections? Is there some new trend? A rebuilt ?????? or any other kind of real challenge? I prefer to remain a little more open minded if not only because it is far too easy to make the same assumptions as before. I find it hard to believe that this is it for Russia, i.e. no further real political development or maturity.

  3. Indeed, why to waste time and money on “presidential elections”? By extending the Presidential term to 6 years I will save a great deal of money for our budget. The main point of my address was that I did what no President has ever done before.

  4. “Presidential election” has a slightly different meaning in Russia, as you can see from this billboard:

    http://ipicture.ru/Gallery/Viewfull/8918992.html