4/04/2007

Why we should not interfere with Russia's Putin if he seeks to retain power by amending constitution...

Putin keeps Russia guessing over succession: Telegraph

An issue that was given significant attention during the first couple years of Vladimir Putin's second term was the fact that Russia's constitution prohibits him from seeking another term at the helm of the Kremlin, but as of late the issue has faded because of Putin's lack of any indication that he wishes to amend the constitution to give himself that option. However, as his time in office winds down, the Russian President has clearly yet to decide how to proceed on this matter, which leads me to believe that this is going to become a seriously vetted issue within the international media.

There is a clear bias against the amending of the Russian constitution amongst political pundits on the FoxNews Network, and in his only appearance in an exclusive interview on that channel on FoxNews Sunday with Chris Wallace, the veteran anchor tried several tactics in an attempt to get a firm commitment from Putin that he would not, under any circumstances, seek to extend his Presidency through the leveraging of his overwhelming governing majority in the legislative Duma.

President Putin is in the fortunate position of governing with veto-proof executive authority, and if he wants to change the Constitution to give himself limitless opportunity to pursue reelection to his current position it is unlikely that anything can be done, short of a political coup, to prevent him from doing this. To make it an international incident if he were to do so would fly in the face of any maturation that has occurred in the relationships the US and Russia now enjoy. Additionally, it has been US policy since 9-11 that it is perfectly reasonable for General Pervez Musharref, President of Pakistan, to refuse to relinquish power despite the lack of a viable legal reasoning, other than that he is the ideal partner in the war being waged against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

I had the pleasure of taking a Russian Foreign Policy class while pursuing my undergraduate degree at DePaul University, and half of the class was spent breaking down the background and governing style of the young and complex young Russian President. He is a leader who entered his current position as a reluctant and apprehensive politician with bold policies. He has grown in the past seven years into a very impressive public figure who enjoys widespread popularity throughout the young Russian Republic, which has been in desperate need of a modern political hero since the fall of the Soviet Empire. Any American policy should be one that holds the will and well-being of the Russian citizens above all other concerns, and though the Russian government should be pressed on issues such as censorship and corruption, we should be fortunate to have a stable and thriving Russian government with which to discuss these issues. Now is not the time to push too aggressively, for no such policy will not stop Putin from leading his country for the indefinite future. We need to embrace this fact as a great sign of stability and steady progress at a very early stage in the formation of a "modern" Russian state.

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