Russia's President is riding on the crest of a wave after almost four-fifths of his countrymen backed a package of constitutional reforms including
Russia’s President is riding on the crest of a wave after almost four-fifths of his countrymen backed a package of constitutional reforms including one which will allow him to run for two more back-to-back terms, enabling him to stay in power until 2036. Officially, Mr Putin has insisted he has not yet made any decision about whether to stand again – but, Mathieu Boulegue, a Research Fellow, of Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, has little doubt he will do so.
He told Express.co.uk: “Depending on the amount of protests in the next few weeks, I think it is a done deal – he has to stay in power.
“He either dies in power or becomes retired, ie somebody retires him.
“Once he is out of power there are no guarantees for his own safety.”
“It’s not like Putin is going to retire any time soon.
“Not least because he needs to make sure his own survival, physical survival as was as financial and economic survival is assured.
“When he has done that, he needs to make sure all the avenues are open for him to remain in power should he choose to do so.”
Mr Boulegue added: “It’s also about his legacy, what he wants to be remembered for, making Russia great again if you like.”
As such, the vote was a way of creating an “illusory sense of change”, he said.
Asked whether Mr Putin had a long-term plan for his country, Mr Boulegue said: “He has a long term plan for himself – when it comes to Russia I am not sure.”
His main strategy was to ensure Russia was respected, or at least feared, in the West, and to show to the Russian people that they were better off now than they were 20 years ago.
He added: “At the end of the day it’s a question of my world view is better than yours.
“When you ask Russians would you fare better in a world without rules they would tell you we already live in such a world, it’s survival of the fittest and it is a question of double-standards in Western democracy.”
Thanking voters for their support and trust yesterday, Mr Putin, 67, added: “We need stability and time to strengthen the country.”
Mr Putin’s approval rating stood at 60 percent last month, still high but hovering around just above a two-decade low in April, a poll by the Levada Center showed.
Opposition activists have called yesterday’s vote illegitimate and claimed it was designed to legalise a Putin presidency-for-life.