Does Russian President Putin Have A Retirement Plan?

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Moscow in December.

Leonid Bershidsky, Moscow Times/Bloomberg: Putin's Retirement Plan Depends on Belarus (Op-ed)

To retain power, he is positioning himself as the leader of a closer union between Russia and its dependent neighbor.

President Vladimir Putin has more than five years left in office, but he must already contemplate his next move. The transition among Russia’s leaders is seldom smooth, so Putin is looking at ways to ensure his continued influence by forging a closer union with neighboring Belarus. A change in the Russian oil taxation regime has provided the opportunity for exploring this scenario.

The Russian constitution allows a president to serve only two consecutive terms. In 2008, rather than change the law and be ridiculed as the equal of Central Asian dictators, Putin ceded the presidency to a close ally, Dmitry Medvedev. But he hated playing second fiddle and disliked Medvedev’s openness to more cooperation with the U.S.; besides, trusting anyone with such a handover could be a bigger risk today, in a country increasingly run by the security apparatus. Simply going into retirement in 2024 is an even scarier option: Putin could never be certain of any personal security guarantees his successor might provide.

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WNU Editor:  Russian President Putin is between a rock and a hard place. Many of those around him are expecting him to leave in 5 years, and if he should hint at staying beyond his term of office and/or changing the constitution that would permit him to run as President again, there will be a revolt. As for making an agreement with Belarus that would give some leverage for Putin to stay beyond 2024 as suggested by the above commentary .... it is not going to happen.

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