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Kremlin Experts: Putin Likely to Stay in Power for Life

russian president vladimir putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sergey Mamontov/Sputnik via AP)

Wednesday, 22 January 2020 06:31 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Rather than simply following the lead of Chinese President Xi Jinping and amending the Constitution to make himself "president for life," Russian President Vladimir Putin has come up with a novel idea to alter the present form of government in Russia that will let him remain its strongman — and most likely stay in power for the rest of his life.

That was the conclusion of three longtime observers of Putin and the Kremlin last week, as the Russian president announced the resignation of his Cabinet.

On Thursday, Russia's Parliament confirmed Putin's choice of Mikhail Mishustin, head of what is essentially Russia's Internal Revenue Service, as the new prime minister.

The only two figures remaining from the previous Cabinet were Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu — both fierce Putin loyalists.

"He is preparing a new structure of power with a balance which will allow him to remain the most important man, above the other powers," Laure Mandeville, a former Moscow bureau chief of Le Figaro and author of two critically acclaimed books on Putin, told Newsmax.

Mandeville and other Putin watchers expect he will submit a referendum to the country to change its form of government to a parliamentary system and thus shifting much of the powers of the president to a prime minister. Under such a system, Putin could remain in power indefinitely after finishing his fourth non-consecutive term as president in 2024.

Mandeville's view was strongly echoed by Alexandra von Nahmen, a former Moscow bureau chief for the German-based Deutsche Welle TV.

"The move could be crucial for Vladimir Putin's future," she said. "Time and again, he has proved that he would do anything necessary to secure his power. After his first two terms as president, he served as prime minister, after installing one of his loyal allies, Dmitry Medvedev, as his successor. After four years he returned to the Kremlin."

Van Nahmen believes that Putin "is also planning to pave the way to stay in power one way or the other. Russia experts do not rule out that Putin sees himself taking the speaker's chair in the Parliament in the future, and is therefore inclined to strengthen the role the Parliament plays."

Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center, said the key to Putin's maneuvering is that he selected "a relatively less-known figure to promote above some much more famous candidates, who were the subject of much speculation. It suggests that Putin keeps his own counsel on the future of state power, that he has had his own plan worked out for some time, and that it will not follow any predetermined, widely known course."

Rojansky believes that Putin's selection of  Mishustin "is in some ways consistent with two decades of Putin's ideology of power. After all, Mishustin is a fully trusted administrator of the state's critical resources — state tax revenue, as well as sensitive data about all its citizens and businesses. He is also a technologically savvy innovator, in some ways a step up from Medvedev's own famous enthusiasm for technology, which was much more of an internet consumer, rather than a digital architect."

Rojansky said that the one certainty following recent developments in Moscow is "that Putin is firmly in control and will decide exactly when, how, and together with whom he executes any planned transition."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has come up with a novel idea to alter the present form of government in Russia that will let him remain its strongman — and most likely stay in power for the rest of his life.
putin, kremlin
Wednesday, 22 January 2020 06:31 AM
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