Russia’s Gaulists

Julia Ioffe, writing at the New Republic Plank blog about Russia’s extension of presidential term limits:

What does the Kremlin say in its defense? It invokes the economic crisis and the time needed to deal with it; it points to Russian exceptionalism and the country’s dire need for a strong leader. “To be honest, I do not think that Russia should be a parliamentary republic,” Medvedev said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I think this would be fatal for the country.” And in the saltiest Russian manner, he invoked the “you hypocrite Americans do it all the time” excuse, saying, “Some countries do it less often, like the United States, for example, though they too have passed a fair few amendments over the years.”

Most baffling of all, however,was Medvedev’s harking back to the days of the tsarist ancien regime when the French were to be emulated in all things. WhenMadeleine Albright asked him at the G20 summit why the Russians were so keen toextend presidential term limits, Medvedev replied like a borscht-belt comedian:”That’s normal for an incumbent administration–trying to enhance yourcapabilities.” He then added, “But I was guided by other considerations. …Recall the Constitution that France had at the time of DeGaulle. It gave the President a seven-year term in office. I think it played agood part in helping Franceto develop as a strong nation.”

So there you have it, folks: Russiais moving towards a de Gaullian form of government.