Archive for the ‘term’ Category

Russia: President By “Remote Control”?

December 30, 2008

When President Barack Obama meets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, will Mr. Medvedev have the power to negotiate and speak for Russia?  Or is Medvedev a figure head; a creation of Vladimir Putin?  Who rules Russia and when signals come from the Kremlin who are they coming from and can one trust their instincts?  This is now a growing dilemma for Russia; and for Barack Obama and the United States….

Related from CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/12/30/r
ussia.presidential.term.extension/index.html

*********************

This year is ending as another watershed for Russia, on a par with 1990 or 1998.

2008 started with great expectations for the country’s future as the Kremlin engineered a seamless political transition from Vladimir Putin to Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev was elected to implement Putin’s Plan — a strategy of rapid economic modernization through 2020 that would wean the country from its dependence on oil and other commodities and make innovation the driving force of the economy. Russia needed only 20 years of peaceful, undisturbed development to make a breakthrough, Medvedev proclaimed in early 2008.

Vladimir Frolov
The Moscow Times

That prospect faded in August, when Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Medvedev responded with a strong show of force and moved to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, a move denounced by all major powers.

Putin Medvedev
.
Above: Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in parliament May 8, 2008. Medvedev has proposed a longer term for Russia’s president and it is no secret that Putin wants to come back as President of Russia.  Photo: Sergei Chirikov AFP/Getty Images

Related:
Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

Suddenly, Moscow was facing global isolation and pressure. By October, Russia discovered the truth in the old saying that if anything can go wrong, it will. The price of oil fell from a high of $147 a barrel in July to less than $40 a barrel in December, sending the country’s trade balance and the budget into deficits, the ruble into devaluation and the economy into recession.

Medvedev’s presidency is changing from the management of a modernization policy to the management of an economic collapse. The financial crisis is also testing the viability of the Putin-Medvedev “tandemocracy,” as painful, unpopular decisions need to be made to save the country. The two centers of power promised a gradual evolution of Russia’s political system toward more pluralism and public accountability.

The crisis is now changing the dynamics and the direction of this process, as Medvedev’s own center of power has been too slow in developing while Putin, exercising ultimate authority, is wary of taking full responsibility for crisis management.

It is now an open secret that Putin has been running the government by “remote control” through his two ambitious first deputies — Igor Shuvalov and Igor Sechin. Both wield enormous power and ultimate responsibility for managing the crisis.

Putin’s White House is now the political center of gravity, while the Kremlin is gradually turning into a backwater. Nobody there seems to be in the crisis mode, with the exception of Arkady Dvorkovich, economic adviser to Medvedev. When someone as astute as Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin first deputy chief of staff, starts holding policy meetings on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama as a political phenomenon, instead of focusing on the country’s crisis, this is a glaring sign of trouble.

Vladimir Frolov is president of LEFF Group, a government relations and PR company.
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/1
016/42/373438.htm

Putin’s Plan To Govern Russia Again Hits a Glitch: Law

December 30, 2008

One of Russia’s opposition parties has challenged the Kremlin‘s whirlwind legislative campaign to extend the term of the Russian presidency, saying it violates a law requiring parliament to wait a year before ratifying a constitutional amendment.

The protest by the pro-democracy Yabloko party could prove an unexpected hurdle for President Dmitry Medvedev‘s plan to extend the presidential term from four years to six years — a proposal that has prompted widespread speculation that his patron, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is preparing to return to the nation’s top post.

The Kremlin has moved unusually quickly to enact the amendment, pushing it through both houses of parliament and all 83 of the nation’s regional legislatures in less than 50 days. The upper house of parliament confirmed the votes from the regions and sent the measure to the Kremlin for Medvedev’s signature last week.

By Philip Pan
The Washington Post

But in a statement issued the same day, Yabloko objected to the move, pointing out that a clause in the 1998 law setting procedures for amending the constitution says the regions must be given a year to consider proposed amendments. Another clause says the upper house should confirm the votes by the regions in its first meeting after that year has passed.

“They’re completely ignoring the law,” said Sergei Mitrokhin, chairman of Yabloko. “Unfortunately, this happens quite often, but this is the first time the process has been ignored for such a significant issue as a constitutional amendment.”

Mitrokhin noted that the 1998 law does not provide an exception in the event the regions approve an amendment before a year has passed, and he argued it was written that way to prevent “legislators from making such important decisions so quickly.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/art
icle/2008/12/29/AR2008122902474.html?hpid=artslot