Vladimir Putin (Re) Launches Bid For Russian Presidency Even As Medvedev Warns "Monopolizing Power Leads To Civil War"
While America is fascinated by the launch (or cancellation) of various presidential campaigns, the real presidential race news comes from Russia, where former president, current Prime Minister, one time KGB spy and overall wannabe dictator of the Great Russian Empire has just thrown in his card once again in the presidential race, much to the disappointment of figurehead president and Putin protege Dmitry Medvedev, who had some stern words of warning for the country should it choose to embark on the path to virtual dictatorship. This is due to the 45 year old's decision to increasingly disagree with policies proposed from the shadow president, as Putin continues to be in charge in all but name. The Australian reports "Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has decided to run for the presidency next year, raising the possibility of a power struggle with his protege Dmitry Medvedev, the incumbent Kremlin leader, say highly placed sources." As to why this is just modestly a concern: "Under the constitution, Mr Putin's move to reclaim the presidency could
see him rule for two consecutive six-year terms until 2024, when he will
be 72. If so, he would have served as prime minister or president for
24 years in all." And the truth is that with his charismatic figure as popular now as ever, he will likely get it, making him the first non-wartime popularly chosen effective dictator of a "democratic" country. However, as Medvedev noted, this outcome would not be without sizable risks: "Russian history shows that monopolising power leads to stagnation or civil war." And the last thing an energy-strapped world needs is for the largest oil producer to be stricken by civil war...
The once-close relationship between Mr Putin, the tough-talking former KGB officer who has inspired a personality cult, and Mr Medvedev, a softly spoken Twitter enthusiast, has become increasingly fractious amid speculation in Moscow that the younger man wishes to stand again.
Insiders familiar with both leaders said Mr Putin, who served eight years as president before becoming Prime Minister three years ago, had begun to lose confidence in Mr Medvedev's loyalty.
Under the constitution, Mr Putin's move to reclaim the presidency could see him rule for two consecutive six-year terms until 2024, when he will be 72. If so, he would have served as prime minister or president for 24 years in all.
The sources said recent criticism by Mr Medvedev had made Mr Putin suspicious. "Putin will run for president. He's made up his mind for good. Rumours that he's still weighing his options are false," said one source.
"There's mounting tension between Medvedev and Putin. The view in Putin's camp is that Medvedev has started behaving with too much arrogance and wants to challenge him. Putin is starting to doubt his loyalty."
The Russian constitution allows the president to serve no more than two consecutive terms. Mr Putin stepped down in 2008 and handed the reins to Medvedev on the tacit understanding that he could come back next year if he wished.
At first Mr Medvedev was regarded as a puppet. He even took to imitating Mr Putin's distinctive macho stride and speaking style. But three years later, Mr Medvedev, who at 45 is still Russia's youngest leader in more than seven decades, is understood to be reluctant to step aside for Mr Putin.
The President is said to be frustrated at the perception, both at home and abroad, that he is a lame duck. A second term would give him the power to pursue a more liberal agenda of greater political freedom and sweeping judicial reforms, in contrast to that of Mr Putin, who is viewed as authoritarian.
"It's the classic tale of the pupil trying to overtake his master. Putin's camp thinks Medvedev is getting too cocky while the President and his people say it's time for the old man to retire."
In a comment seen as a veiled attack on Mr Putin, Mr Medvedev said last week: "A person who thinks he can stay in power indefinitely is a danger to society.
"Russian history shows that monopolising power leads to stagnation or civil war."
And here is why the presidential campaign in Russia is over before it has even begun:
"The difference is simple: Putin can ask Medvedev to step aside. No matter how reluctantly, he'll oblige. But Medvedev can't stop Putin from coming back. And Putin wants to be president again."
The only question is how long until the west, so far preoccupied with its own insolvency crisis, realizes that just a little further east, the former "Evil Empire" has once again flipped the "World Domination" switch to on.