Offering Battle to Mr. Putin
“Mr. Putin, can you categorically rule out a return to the presidency in the next 12 months?”
“It’s always the foreign media that are interested in this question. I have a very effective relationship with President Medvedev. I like the way we work together today. The next elections will be in 2012, let’s wait and see. ”
— Russian “Prime Minister” Vladmir Putin, responding to a question last week from the BBC
You will notice, attentive reader that you are, that Putin didn’t say “no.” Nor did he say that Medvedev would not resign and hand Putin the presidency, just as Boris Yeltsin did in 1999. He didn’t say Medvedev was a good leader except in that he does what Putin wants him to do.
Can you imagine, do you dare, dear reader, how “President” Vladimir Putin would have reacted a few years ago if his then prime minister had answered a question about whether he would take over the presidency in the next 12 months, with three years still to go on Putin’s term in office, using the same words Putin did when asked that last week?
No, dear reader, you can’t. Because the consequences would be too bloody and godawful to imagine. But Putin is free to say so, just as he is free to be the one answering the questions and not the actual leader of the country, Dima Medvedev, who thus faced a double and truly bruthal humiliation. Even if Putin remains as prime minister, he’s still the ruler of the nation.
And even if Putin’s answer means there won’t be new “elections” until 2012, Medvedev can resign whenever he likes, just as Yeltsin did, and Putin as “prime minister” would return to serve ou the remaider of Medvedev’s term, just as he served out Yeltsin’s, followed by 12 more “elected” years, giving him 23 or more years as “president.” His answer certainly doesn’t rule that out, and clearly stated that he intends to return in 2012.
And Putin’s ambition does not stop at a mere return as “president” for life. That is only the tip of the iceberg.