This just in -- Putin may run for third term.
Gee, you could have knocked me over with a feather! Putin -- that blue eyed devil-may-care guy? The man with the bottomless well of a soul? That lover of American barbecue and inestimable ally in the war on terror -- that Putin? Or is it the Putin who is bringing back the old KGB days, the days of crime and hoses, the days of murders of political opponents, poisoning of candidates from neighboring states, the Putin of closed down media, non-existent local elections and revival of Stalinist nostalgia.
Yeah -- you guessed it -- it's that Putin. Or more precisely, his party. One can almost hear him saying: "Why -- me? You want ME to run again?? Blush -- why I SWORE I wouldn't run again -- why I promised the country and the world I wouldn't run. But -- you say -- you draft me? You cannot live another moment without me? How can I turn my back on the Fatherland -- after the great victory in the Great Patriotic War over the Nazis of our fathers. I would be an ungrateful cur to decline to serve my country. Sigh -- as hard as it will be for me to bear this burden -- if I must, I must. And if you draft me, I will run. So be it. So be it."
I tell you -- it's not often you find a leader as selfless as this one:
Lawmakers are considering an electoral amendment next week that could open the way for President Vladimir Putin to run for a third term, prompting the opposition to accuse his supporters of trying to cling to power.
Putin has repeatedly said he will not change the constitution, which bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms.
A senior member of his United Russia party, however, submitted a legislative amendment Thursday that would allow Putin to stand for re-election if he stepped down before the end of his second term ends in March 2008, and if the next presidential poll held without his participation is declared invalid -- for example, because of low turnout.
. . .Critics in the opposition accused the Kremlin clan of seeking a backdoor means for keeping Putin in office because they could not find a popular enough successor.
"They have decided to come up with various scenarios that would enable the president to stay on beyond 2008, because otherwise they will fear for their personal interests," said the leader of the nationalist Rodina (Homeland) party, Dmitry Rogozin, according to the news Web site Gazeta.ru.
Hmmm -- now WHAT personal interests do you suppose those might be? Ill gotten gains from all the sweetheart deals between corrupt politicians and oligarchs who get vast state properties and enterprises at two cents on the ruble? Like what will happen in this country persuant to the recent ruling on takings by our very own Supremes?
Liberal opposition politician Irina Khakamada, who ran for president in 2004, suggested Putin's supporters, including in the powerful secret service faction that now hold top positions in state companies, were worried about their future.
"There is a real problem surrounding the succession. All they are interested in is redistribution of assets," she said.
But she doubted the amendment would pass, saying Putin himself had no wish to tarnish his image or "burn his bridges with the international community" by circumventing the constitution.
You want to bet? You want to bet that Putin doesn't give a herring for his image -- or cares as much as a single blini about burning his bridges with the international community?
In April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington was concerned about democratic backsliding in Russia, and that the U.S. expected Putin to respect the constitution and step down at the end of his term.
I'm sure he's quaking in those cowboy boots of his -- the ones George Bush gave him.
During his time in power, Putin has placed national television under effective state control, abolished the direct election of regional governors to make them virtual Kremlin appointees, and eliminated the right of independent lawmakers to run for parliament.