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The Russian Roosevelt?

It’s an argument so simple and obvious that I actually haven’t seen all that many people bothering to make it.  Nevertheless, the Financial Times is running an editorial gently suggesting that it might not be such a good idea for Vladimir Putin to run as president again.

For Mr Putin to return to the presidency would suggest he had executed a cynical manoeuvre to bypass Russia’s constitutional bar on serving more than two consecutive presidential terms by installing a temporary placeholder. For all his notable achievements in stabilising Russia in the past decade, Mr Putin has yet to explain why he should be granted potentially two more six-year presidential terms. Stability, in Russia today, threatens to become stagnation, mired in corruption. (…)

Mr Putin plays on the deeply-held belief among Russians that only an all-powerful “good tsar” can hold the country together and protect them from rapacious officials. His prestige would be better employed in weaning his Russians off this faith, building democratic institutions, and grooming candidates capable of leading Russia’s future development. Mr Putin’s most important contribution now would be knowing when it is time to step off the political stage.