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Counterfeit Constitutionalism Paves the Way for Putin Return

Is President Dmitry Medvedev paving the way for some constitutional changes to bring Vladimir Putin back into the presidency? Furthermore, after this one little constitutional edit, why not some more? From the Financial Times:

But he dropped a bombshell by saying the constitution should be “corrected” to allow Russian presidents to serve longer terms. Presidents are limited to two consecutive four-year terms but can return to power after a period out of office. When Mr Putin was president he rejected calls to change the constitution to allow him to remain in power, insisting he could not alter a cornerstone of Russia’s democracy. Mr Medvedev said that extending the term of office was necessary to help Russia’s transition to democracy.

A senior Kremlin official said the proposals would not apply to Mr Medvedev’s current term. This was seen by analysts and opposition figures as a signal that Mr Putin could be preparing to return to power.“This is the strengthening of the current authoritarian regime,” said Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent member of parliament until changes to electoral laws saw him lose his seat last year. “This was a clear signal that the current regime of Putin and Medvedev intends to further strengthen its power and deepen its grip over the country.”Mr Ryzhkov said other moves announced by Mr Medvedev to broaden political representation were “cosmetic changes”. “This is an imitation of democracy,” he said.Any change in the limits to a presidential term needs approval by both chambers of parliament, which are dominated by backers of Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin.Vyacheslav Nikonov, a Kremlin-connected political analyst, warned that a review of the constitution for the first time since it was written in 1993 could open “a Pandora’s box” of changes.