Thursday, January 16, 2020

Putin goes full dictator mode

Vladimir Putin continues his trajectory towards dictatorship, and the Russian government apparently aids and abets him all the way.
In his latest state-of-the-nation speech, Putin proposed changes to the Russian constitution that would effectively allow him to retain power even after term limits disallow him from another term as President in the next election in 2024. Not content with 20 years in power, the increasingly unpopular Putin wants more, and has proposed giving parliament, which is controlled by his party, more power, and the incoming President (which will not be him) less. He is also calling for unspecified additional powers  to be given to the Politburo-style State Council, which Putin just happens to chair.
While this should set alarm bells clanging for most people, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev responded by announcing that he and his whole cabinet would be resigning in order to "provide the president of our country with the ability to make all necessary decisions for this", i.e. they are going to abdicate all responsibility and just let the power-mad Putin do whatever the hell he wants. Putin's pick for Prime Minister to replace Medvedev, Mikhail Mishustin, a hockey buddy of Putin's with no real top-level political experience - was sworn in with no dissent (a few abstentions, but not a single vote against) from the State Duma.
Opposition activists are calling this "a full-fledged constititional coup d'état", and it's hard to see it any other way. Putin, who clearly hankers for the glory days of the Soviet Union, may have been technically voted in by the people again in 2018 (although with the main opposition politician under arrest on trumped up charges, and a atmosphere of fear and distrust permeating the whole election, it was hardly a democratic vote). But I'm pretty sure that the people did not vote for this outcome.

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