Prime Minister Darth Putin

“Vladimir Putin has been slowly but surely been using the power of the state to crush his political opponents and pushing Russia back towards a more authoritarian form of government. How far does he intend to go with this? I’m not sure…” — Right Wing News, Feb 12, 2004

“Is A Dictatorship In The Works?” — Right Wing News on Russia, November 1, 2005

Before you read this, cue the Imperial March from Star Wars so that you’ll have appropriate background music,

President Vladimir Putin, in a surprise announcement, opened the door Monday to becoming Russia’s prime minister and retaining power when his presidential term ends next year.

The popular Putin is barred from seeking a third consecutive term in the March presidential election, but has strongly indicated he would seek to keep a hand on Russia’s reins after he steps down.

Putin’s remarks Monday at a congress of the dominant, Kremlin-controlled United Russia party hint at a clear scenario in which he could remake himself as a powerful prime minister and eclipse a weakened president.

Putin, 54, told United Russia that his name will top its ticket in Dec. 2 parliamentary elections — a huge show of support from a president who has always sought to remain above the grit of party politics.

He called a proposal that he become prime minister “entirely realistic,” but added that it was still “too early to think about it.” For him to consider it, he said, first United Russia would have to win the elections and Russia elect as president a “decent, competent, effective, modern person with whom it would be possible to work in tandem.”

Putin’s name on the ticket will make the first task much easier. Laden with top officials who can use the media, law enforcement and other levers to pressure opponents and influence voting, the party already has a huge advantage. And Putin’s powerful support could ensure it retains the two-thirds majority needed in the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, to approve changes in the constitution.

Putin’s move points to the possibility that the constitution could be changed to shift power from the presidency to the government, which he would lead as prime minister.

“The most logical way for Putin’s team to fulfill its main goal — to step down but stay in power — is to change the constitution” to strengthen the prime minister and his Cabinet, political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said in an interview. “The president would become a decorative figure.”

After 9/11, when Russia was cooperating with us, it seemed like it could be the start of a new era that featured a democratic Russia joining the side of the angels…but, it’s apparent that the spirit crushing effects of communism have left the Russian people unable to truly appreciate their freedom.

Yes, it was a great day when the Russians rallied around Boris Yeltsin and kept the commies from taking over, but since then, those same people have allowed Putin to strip away their freedom in all but name, one key piece at a time.

In effect, Russia is a dictatorship now, and the cherry on top of that sundae of despair would be if Putin takes over as a Prime Minister. Of course, some people would dispute that and point to the fact that the Russian people are allowed to vote — but, when one side has absolute control over the press, kills and arrests its political opponents, and uses the full power of the state against its opposition, it’s a democracy in name only.

No, Putin hasn’t solidified his control enough to turn Russia into his own private banana republic yet, but it looks like that’s coming soon…

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