Sunday, November 18, 2007

President and Mr. Putin?

Kommersant reports on the latest wrinkle to perpetuate the rule of Vladimir Putin. According to the report, "Women of Vladivostok" have initiated a movement to draft Ludumila Putina as the country's next president.

" Entrepreneur Larisa Omelyanchuk, leader of Women of Vladivostok, issued a statement in local media on Friday to suggest nominating Lyudmila Putina for president. The NGO which nominated 13 candidates for Vladivostok’s legislature in the recent election is reported to draw support from the city administration. The statement says that the Constitution bars Vladimir Putin from running for a third term in the presidential election in March, but most Russians would prefer the continuation of the incumbent president’s policies. The organization believes the Mr. Putin’s wife will become the best guarantor for succession of power and stability in the society.

“Lyudmila Alexandrovna is a perfect wife and active public figure. She promoted the creation of the Center for Russian Language Development. She represents our country well on her husband’s foreign visits. She is essentially a mature politician,” Ms. Emelyanchuk explained.

She says Women of Vladivostok are ready to act as an initiative group to nominate Mrs. Putin for president. Ms. Emelyanchuk insisted that the idea was not imposed on her: “It was completely our own initiative.”

There are skeptics however:

Politicians in the Far East say that Women of Vladivostok’s move to nominate Lyudmila Putina for president was purely a PR stunt. “The majority of voters in Vladivostok know nothing about candidates from Women of Vladivostok. Here is not a very smart PR move about it,” says the leader of the Communist Party’s faction in the local legislature, Vladimir Bespalov. “Lyudmila Putin is very low-profile. She is unable to occupy the post of a minister, let alone the presidency.” Leader of local Fair Russia, Vladimir Voitovsky, agrees: “This is some sort of ladies’ fuss about the election. It’s all just for fun.” Vladimir Nikiforov, leader of Yabloko in the Far East, believes that Russia “does not need a monarchy”. United Russia supported the opposition: “I don’t really want to comment it – it’s a simple PR stunt,” says Igor Chemeris, deputy head of the party in power’s local branch."

There could be unpleasant consequences for those involved according to Stanislov Belkovsy, a Russian political analyst, whose comments are somewhat intriguing as to the nature of the Putin marriage:

"“Vladimir Putin’s relationship with his wife is complicated. So, Lyudmila Putina would be the last person he would like to see as the successor. Once the president gets wind of the initiative, its authors will be punished, I think.”

Supporters seem to be undaunted however:

It is not for the first time that grassroots are trying to put Lyudmila Putina forward for the post. In April, activists set up “For Putina! For Female President! and went to the streets of Volgograd to gather several thousand signatures to support Mrs. Putin’s candidacy and later sent them on to the president’s wife. They got to reply, though. “Putina kept silent for some reason, but we will carry out with our proposal,” said the action’s organizer and local lawmaker Anatoly Beyev. “Argentina got a female president. Why can’t we?”


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