Vladimir Putin is in office

Wladimir Putin

In his speech to the Duma, Putin initially rejected the abolition of the term limit.

(Photo: dpa)

Moscow Russian President Vladimir Putin virtually built a back door in the new constitution at the last moment so that he could continue to govern. On Tuesday, the head of state performed surprisingly in the Duma, the Russian lower house. The MPs were sitting there at the second and decisive reading about the constitutional change initiated by Putin.

Just a few hours earlier, the Kremlin had sent the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, who is now a Duma MP for the ruling party “United Russia”. She made two proposals to keep Putin in power.

Variant one: The limitation to two terms of office is completely removed from the constitution. Option two: Putin’s terms of office are canceled with the new constitution and, like all other citizens, he has the right to start again.

In his speech to the Duma, Putin initially rejected the abolition of the term limit. This may be necessary in times of political unrest and economic turbulence, since “stability” is more important than democratic freedoms.

But the constitutional changes should apply for at least “30 or 50 years”. “In the long term, the population needs guarantees that the authorities can be changed,” said Putin. He therefore rejects the deletion of the term limit.

What Putin denies others, he claims himself

But Putin claims for himself what he is denying future incumbents. Putin accepted Tereshkova’s proposal to annul his own term so that he could run again in 2024. “In principle, this variant would be possible,” he said. It would only have to examine the constitutional court whether such a clause does not contradict the spirit of the constitution.

In addition, the people would have to agree to the April 22 referendum, he added. Irony of fate: The date coincides with the 150th birthday of Vladimir Lenin, who established the “dictatorship of the proletariat” in Russia 100 years ago.

Most recently, Putin had always denied his interest in extending his reign in public appearances. Its constitutional changes served solely to improve Russia’s governability and had nothing to do with the desire to extend his reign. Even before the last election in 2018, he replied to the question of whether he wanted to come back as president in 2030: “It’s a bit ridiculous. Should I be sitting here around the age of 100? “

Now he has at least given himself the opportunity to remain in power until the age of 83, because by canceling his terms in office, he could theoretically start again not only in 2024 but also in 2030.

Constitutional Court is always loyal

It is practically impossible for the constitutional court to veto the change. Waleri Sorkin has headed the constitutional court since 2003 and has proven to be extremely loyal to the Kremlin.

Among other things, the Constitutional Court, under his leadership, approved the abolition of the governor elections and the non-admission of Alexei Navalny to the 2018 presidential election. In addition, the Constitutional Court allowed Russia not to comply with judgments by the European Court of Human Rights if they contradict the constitution. This affects, among other things, the billion dollar dispute over the Yukos legacy.

Approval of the constitutional change in the referendum is also considered certain. In order to get citizens to agree, many demands were written into the new constitution that should satisfy the nationalist-conservative majority. These include the mention of God, the establishment of marriage as a covenant between men and women, the ban on degrading Russia’s role in World War II, or the cession of territories.

More: Putin provides for old age with the constitutional change, says Handelsblatt correspondent André Ballin.


Russian musician Schnurow wants to get involved in politics

Ska singer Sergei Schnurow

The front man of the Russian band “Leningrad” (in Russian in the background) often sings vulgar lines.

(Photo: ddp / Peter Kovalev / TASS / Sipa USA)

Moscow A few years ago, he said: “If something is forbidden in Russia, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. It just means that it will be a little more expensive. ”Now he wants to be active in politics himself. The front man of the popular Russian skacore band “Leningrad” has surprisingly joined the “Party of Growth”. Schnurow and his band are best known for provocative lines and vulgar language. The musician promises that it will “definitely be funnier” with him.

The billionaire Boris Titov’s party describes itself as a representative of small and medium-sized enterprises and as moderately oppositional. But it is considered a Kremlin project. Not only because Titov works as Putin’s ombudsman for the Russian economy, but also because its predecessor “Right Thing” was created in the back rooms of the Kremlin to tie up the liberal part of the Russians.

Musically, Leningrad has stood for the pleasure of provocation for more than 20 years. And quite successfully. Sergei Schnurow made his way through his artistic career as a guardian in kindergarten, as a glazier, as a blacksmith, as a carpenter and as a designer in an advertising agency. Once in the Russian underground, he is now one of the most famous musicians in Russia and, according to Forbes, one of the highest paid.

Between June 2017 and May 2018, he therefore earned $ 13.9 million – only marginally less than Russia’s ice hockey star Alexander Owetschkin, but much more than established pop stars like Filip Kirkorow or Dima Bilan.

In Germany he became known through the Russian disco events of Vladimir Kaminer. But he also fills the halls in New York, Paris or Sydney – predominantly, of course, with Russian-speaking expats. Leningrad polarizes. The band thrilled their fans with a mix of different styles from ska and rock to Russian folklore to hip-hop, but above all with the anarchic language.

Satirist with fecal language

Spiked with swear words, Schnurow distilled the often difficult everyday life of the Russians. However, his opponents are bothered by the dirty expressions of the 46-year-old. Because of the fecal language, Schnurow was also banned from performing in Moscow for many years. He focused almost exclusively on vodka and women in the early years, but has since expanded his repertoire significantly. With hard words and subtle irony, he ridiculed the falseness of Russian Orthodox priests, the greed of politicians, or the ignorance and stubbornness of many citizens.

He also directed sharp broadsides in the form of a poem to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin. Schnurow is no good opponent of the regime. Rather than a court jester who can sometimes tell the truth. Because his criticism is always dosed correctly – and never fundamentally.

Schnurow himself has always denied his interest in politics. All the more surprising is his sudden entry into the billionaire Titov’s party. The party was never popular, only billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, as its leading candidate in the 2012 presidential election, was a success when he surprisingly finished third on the wave of protests.

But that’s about it. Titov himself got less than one percent in the 2018 presidential election. This was probably a candidature discussed in the Kremlin, the only aim of which was to increase voter turnout somewhat and to split the liberal camp.

The TV presenter Xenia Sobchak also played a similar role at the time. She presented herself as an opposition activist, but undermined the planned boycott of the opposition by her participation in the presidential election with Putin. Back then Schnurow made fun of Sobchak. The woman returned the favor and commented that Schnurow’s entry into the party was proof that his malice was only envy at the time.

Schnurow’s sudden move into politics provokes speculation: the opposition politician Alexei Navalny sees this as an attempt by the Kremlin to manipulate the 2021 Duma elections. Schnurow has his fans, but the “party of growth” will not grow to more than four percent with him.

Because of the five percent clause, she would therefore not move into parliament, from which the Kremlin party “United Russia”, which is likely to be the strongest party, would benefit the most since it would need less percent to achieve the majority of seats, argued Nawalny.

The artist Schnurow commented on the fuss about his political engagement in the usual vulgar-ambiguous manner: “It is not my first time as a member and I am used to tensing up foreign asses,” he wrote. He denied that the Kremlin administration was behind his party entry. He made the decision on his own initiative, he said, but without revealing his motivation.

At least he did not rule out a candidacy in the Duma election. The election campaign will then definitely be fun. Especially when the candidate Schnurow plays the song in his campaign that he sang himself years ago in the comedy “Election Day”: This ends with the remark that he does not vote because “all candidates are pederasts”.

More: How a world champion became Putin’s constitutional expert