Monday, October 11, 2004

Putin to serve more than 2 terms?

Fears mount that Vladimir Putin could try to change the Russian Constitution, allowing himself more than the current limit of two terms:

The buzz in liberal circles these days is that President Vladimir Putin's far-reaching political reform plans could help him retain power after his second and final term ends in 2008.

"It's a general feeling," said Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank. "This reform is a showdown. All masks are dropped."

The proposal, which scraps the popular vote for governors and individual races for the State Duma, could be a step toward amending the Constitution to extend Putin's final term from the current four years or to allow him to seek a third term, analysts said. Putin has repeatedly indicated that he will not cling to the presidency after his second term.

Or Putin could effectively remain the head of state as a powerful prime minister under a weak president. Under this scenario, the president would be a largely ceremonial figure, as in Germany.

A weak president could be elected by parliament instead of by popular vote and could come from Putin's inner circle, Olga Kryshtanovskaya, head of the Center for the Study of the Elite, which is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said at a news conference last week.


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