Staunton, February 10 – By his actions with regard to the amending of the Constitution, Vladimir Putin has created “two fundamental contradictions” that are connected with each other and only increase the paradoxical nature of the current political situation in Moscow, Vladimir Pastukhov says.
The first of these, the London-based Russian scholar says, consists in the fact that “Putin has sharply strengthened the power of the presidency” which should be a sign that he intends to remain in that post but at the same time, “he has removed the constitutional ambiguity regarding the number of permitted presidential terms” which makes his remaining more difficult (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/konstitucionnyj-paradoks-putina-tri-vozmozhnyx-resheniya/).
The second paradox is that “Putin by his own declarations has created the appearance of an absence on his part of any intention to fight for an extension of his presidential authority” even as his political actions “do not leave any doubt that one way or another precisely he will in the future rule Russia.”
Indeed, Pastukhov continues, Putin “is beginning to remind one of a political ‘Schrödinger's cat’ (not to be confused with ‘a [Gerhard] Schröder cat’) in being simultaneously part and not part of “the map of the political future of Russia.” That might suggest Putin is being irrational, but experience shows that he is invariably rational. What explains these paradoxes?
Pastukhov suggests that there are three possible “rational” explanations for what Putin is doing, but only the third appears to be likely. The first of these is that Putin really does see himself as soon to depart the political scene. In that case, he doesn’t care about a Kazakh or Turkmen transition but only in ensuring that the structures a successor will need are in place.
But given all the other available evidence, this outcome seems profoundly unlikely, the London-based scholar says.
The second possible “rational” explanation is that Putin has chosen a successor and wants to put him or her in place with the powers needed to act. But it seems highly unlikely that Putin trusts anyone enough to do this, thus making option two “theoretically possible but practically improbable.”
But there is a third explanation that seems far more plausible even though it is uncertain whether this is Putin’s intention of not. That is the Kremlin leader has decided to adopt the Boris Gudonov scenario under which “the candidate for tsar must three times reject the power and then accept it as a burden, conceding to the prayerful demands of the crowds.”
Russian history provides numerous variants for such a scenario, Pastukhov says. The most likely or at least the most interesting would involve the constitutional amendment working group would at just the right moment call on Putin to take the powers of a tsar to solve the country’s problems.
If that should happen, both paradoxes would be solved; and what Putin has done in recent weeks will look completely rational, the scholar concludes.