Russian President Vladimir Putin has been attracting quite a bit of criticism on his visit to Ukraine for allegedly interfering in the Presidential election there. But what caught my eye was Putin’s statement about his own Presidency. On Ukrainian tv he commented:
the Russian constitution allows two consecutive presidential terms. I am going to be guided by this principle.
I believe that stability is the top priority in many countries, at least, it is in Russia. Stability can be secured only by adhering to laws. Among these laws, there is one that lays the foundation for all others. It is the constitution, the basic law of the country.
(Quote courtesy of Mosnews).
I’m still pretty sceptical – I think Putin will run for a third term if he possibly can. And the key to that, as he notes above, is the constitution. Belarussian President Lukashenko has already won a (very controversial) referendum which amends the constitution, allowing him to run for a third term. It is surely only a matter of time before Putin goes down this route.
The pro-Putin United Russia Party alone controls over half of the Duma’s 450 seats, and most of the other parties – even the Communsts – seem to be toeing the Putin line these days. And in Russia, unlike many other countries, the Constitution can be amended by a 2/3 majority of the Duma (Parliament). If even a disaster such as Beslan can’t dent support for Putin, then I can’t really see much significant opposition to a constitutional amendment.