Putin’s “constitutional coup”

This is how some Russian commenters have called Putin’s plan to change the constitution.

I’m not claiming I understand the strategy behind the changes or their intended consequences. I would guess that, if Putin remains politically active, the new setup will let him stay in charge for as long as he wants. It could even enable him to take a less hands-on approach to governing if things go smoothly after the reshuffle. On the other hand, he would be able to assume dictatorial powers in an emergency.

However, if Putin should leave the political stage for some reason, all bets would be off. The architects of the reform may see it as a guarantee against the regime’s collapse upon Putin’s exit. It’s supposed to ensure the same clique rules the country, the same Putinist oligarchy. The strategy sounds sensible, but only in theory.

Here’s Mark Galeotti‘s take on the “January revolution.”

But what if we’re all wrong? What if Putin is in a messianic mode and feels that time is running out for his USSR restoration plan (going beyond a union with Belarus)? The “coup” would be merely a preparatory measure then. That’s how Valery Solovei puts it, a least when speaking to Russian audiences through Russian media. How good are his sources and his reasoning? How likely is this scenario? After Crimea, nothing seems impossible.


  1. […] rational panic as it were. However, the Kremlin has announced a plebiscite to legitimize its “constitutional coup d’état” and has scheduled the vote for April 22. Now it could be brought forward a few weeks or […]

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