Last week Vladimir Putin could be watched on all Russian T.V. screens. Such omnipresence made him clearly appear as a man interested in re-election. This has led an increasing number of commentators to wonder whether he will stay in power after 2008, once completed his second and last term of office as President.
Some political leaders have suggested lifting the constitutional restrictions for a third term in office. However, two years and a half before the next elections in Russia, the Kremlin is still undecided about the means to preserve the political status quo. The control of Parliament and the media by the Kremlin gives Putin a lot of leeway. His rate of support in Russia is also a good guarantee. It is true that the Kremlin is concerned about the youth movements opposing it but such movements count on very little support. And with permanently increasing oil prices, the Kremlin has all the advantage. However, the Kremlin distrusts civic activism.
To counteract what seemed to be a threat, the Kremlin decided to create the “Public Chamber”. This institution is described as “the means through which the civil society and the citizens of the Russian Federation can influence the government’s decisions”. The people that will make it up will be appointed by the Kremlin. One of them is a signatory of the request of indictment against Michael Kodorkovski. Putin accepts opinions as long as they agree with his own.
”Putin’s Chosen ’Public’”, by Masha Lipman, Washington Post, September 16, 2005.