Staunton, March 10 – Vladimir Putin’s constitutional machinations which appear likely to allow him to serve until 2036 when he would be 84 have struck many as extremely creative or clumsy, but few have pointed out that what the Kremlin leader has just done is nothing more than to copy what many CIS leaders have in the past, Mikhail Tishenko says.
The Fergana news agency commentator says that Putin’s counterparts “long ago extended their time in office with the help of changes in the constitution” and that many of the changes they introduced including lengthening presidential terms and counting their elections anew because of constitutional amendments are exactly the same (fergana.agency/articles/115924/).
Below is his survey of the precedents seven of these countries appear to have served for Putin:
· Tajikistan. The Tajikistan constitution prohibits anyone from serving more than two terms as president in a row. But Emomali Rakhmon, having come to power in 1994, would have had to leave it before 2004. But instead, before the 1999 elections, he held a referendum, changed the constitution to extend his term to seven years, and, having then cut the number of terms to one, later arranged to have it again be two. And that action also allowed him to eliminate from any count earlier elections, permitting Rakhmon to be reelected in 2006 and 2007 “as if these were the first and second times.”
· Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov after completing his second term as president, the most allowed by the constitution, simply ran again, with his supporters declaring that he had the right because his earlier elections didn’t count since the constitution had been amended in other ways. He also extended the term of office from five to seven and then to nine years.
· Kyrgyzstan. In 2000, Askar Akayev ran for a third term even though the constitution prohibited that because a 1993 law said his first election didn’t count. In the end, however, Akayev had to leave office early: he was overthrown in 2005 and had to flee the country.
· Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukshenka in 2004 simply eliminated the number of terms he could run for and serve as president.
· Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliyev eliminated the restrictions on the number of presidential terms in 2009.
· Kazakhstan. Nursultan Nazarbayev formally maintains the two-term limit. “But in correspondence with amendments adopted in 2007,” he personally was granted an exception and he ran for and won a third term.
· Turkmenistan. This Central Asian country has gone the furthest. In 1999, it declared Saparmurad Niyazov president for life. His successor Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won almost 100 percent of the vote in 2017.