Thursday, July 2, 2020

Amendment Allowing for Federal Territories in Russia Could Prove Most Fateful of All, Posokhov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 30 – In discussions of amendments to the Russian Constitution, most have focused on the one allowing Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036. That gives Putin time, Parmen Posokhov says; but another amendment, opening the way to the establishment of federal territories, points to how he plans to use.

            That amendment, which specifies that in addition to or perhaps in the place of existing federal subjects, there will be established “federal territories” whose structure and funcitons will be defined by an as-yet unadopted law, the commentator says (трымава.рф/?p=33173, reposted at

            In principle, Posokhov says, these “federal territories” will be “administered somewhat differently than the subjects of the federation,” although exactly what these differences will be is not specified but left open until the adoption of a federal law about them.  But there are clues as to what may happen.
            Given Putin’s stress on “preserving national traditions,” it is not unreasonable to assume that he will “turn to historical analogies.” And the most obvious one in this case is the oprichnik system Ivan the Terrible introduced in 1565.  Under its terms, the tsar handed over to his loyalists people who confiscated the lands of the boyars and terrorized them and the population.

            “The federal territories could thus become the Presidential oprichnina,” one in which those put in charge of these “federal territories” would target the boyars of today, the oligarchs.  Putin is certain to be aware of that possibility and even be ready to use it. After all, even Stalin called Ivan “his teacher.”

            If this is the direction Putin plans to go, then it is understandable why he is also so concerned about the beefing up of the State Council. After all, “it will be necessary somehow to administer these federal territories. And who may take the place of Malyuta Skuratov and Boris Godunov are things we may soon find out.”

            Russians should not forget that out of this system came “a new tsar and de facto successor of Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov.” And Putin may use his State Council to do the same and find an ultimate successor to himself. Clearly, Putin’s plans are “grandiose, and the era of changes will continue.”

            As a result, Posokhov says, “the old Chinese curse” – may you live in interesting times – will alas continue to operate” in Russia.

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