President Obama met with Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, second from right, at his residence on Tuesday
President Obama and President Dmitri A. Medvedev at a summit meeting in a Moscow exhibition hall Tuesday. The two seemed to develop an easy familiarity by the end of Mr. Obama’s visit
Kremlin Rules Russia’s Liberals Lose Their Voice Nikita Y. Belykh, right, accepted an appointment as one of the Kremlin's regional governors this month. He said he had felt beaten down as a leading member of Russia's liberal opposition . . . SO HE HAS BEEN __-________ BY THE
Russia’s Liberals Lose Their Voice Maxim Shemetov/Itar-Tass Nikita Y. Belykh, once a Kremlin critic, took a job offered by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.
Bill to Extend Russian President’s Term Advances Vladimir Kashin, left, and Gennadi A. Zyuganov of the Russian Communist Party during the debate on extending the term. Vladimir Kashin, left, and Gennadi A. Zyuganov of the Russian Communist Party during the debate on extending the term. By ELLEN BARRY MOSCOW Nov 15 2008— As a bill extending Russia’s presidency to six years from four barreled through the Russian legislature on Friday, it fell to the old-timers from the Communist Party to put up a fight. “Why do we have to do this today?”Viktor I. Ilyukhin, a Communist legislator, said during discussions Friday in the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament. “Why are we in such a hurry? A strict authoritarian regime has already been established in this country. There is already an unprecedented concentration of power in one person’s hands.” Political opposition leaders have been harshly critical of the proposed change, which is almost assured of becoming law, but opposition parties have little presence in the Duma, and on Friday, the Communists were virtually the only dissenters. In the end, the bill sailed through its first reading in the Duma, passing by a vote of 388 to 58. Fifty-seven of those votes were from Communists, who unanimously opposed the change. The measure must pass two more readings in the lower house, and also be approved by majorities in the upper house and Russia’s regional parliaments.
Electing a President The winning candidate requires an absolute majority of the total vote. If no candidate secures this majority in the first-round ballot, then a second-round run off election must be held three weeks later in which the only contestants are the two front-running candidates in the first round. In 1996 Boris Yeltsin won barely a third of the vote in the first round; in 2000 and 2004 Vladimir Putin won an absolute majority in the first round (previous results), and Dmitry Medvedev did the same in 2008. Before the 2008 election, the ballot option of voting "against all" was abolished; in 2004 this protest vote was 3.4 percent of the total. The previous minimum turnout of 50 percent of the registered electorate was also abolished. In the three previous presidential elections, the turnout had ranged between 69.7 percent in the 1996 first round and 64.3 percent in 2004. In 2008, it was again 69.7%. The inauguration day of the new president was 7 May 2008 http://www.russiavotes.org/president/presidency_electoral_system.php
Duma deputies applaud the passing of legislation that would lengthen the presidential term in November 2008
Russia's Medvedev Inks Law Extending Presidency Move Seen As Paving Way For Vladimir Putin's Return Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a law extending presidential terms from four years to six, the Kremlin said Tuesday, a move seen as paving the way for Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency. Medvedev's final endorsement of the legislation follows its quick approval by the Kremlin-controlled parliament and all of Russia's 83 provincial legislatures. If enacted, the change would not apply to Medvedev's current term, due to end in 2012. Putin, who remains very popular, was barred constitutionally from seeking a third straight term as president. He tapped his longtime protege Medvedev as his favored successor, ensuring Medvedev's landslide election in March Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, and President Dmitry Medvedev. (File
Soviet chief Mikhail Gorbachev, left, chats with Ronald Reagan during an arrival ceremony at the White House on Dec. 8, 1987. Russia begins 1985: Gorbachev becomes General Secretary: institutes a program of glasnost, perestroika; law governed state and more open foreign policy Ball gets out of control: by 1990, 15 Republics are calling for independence; Gorbachev agrees to the CIS (commonwealth of Independent states)
The Background Hardliner coup: Aug. 1991 coup Gorbachev’s own VP, PM, defense minister and KGB chief put him under house arrest Yeltsin (who had been elected president of Russian federation in June) rides on tank to declare Russian independence Coup falls apart (3 days) and Gorbachev is back in power but fatally weakened. In the fall, Russia begins to take over functions of the Soviet Union ministry by ministry. December; Gorbachev resigns as president of a country that no longer exists
1991 - Russia becomes "independent" as the Soviet Union collapses Chechnya declares unilateral independence.
Yeltsin and Gaidor become president and PM of Russia and demand extraordinary powers to deal with economic problems This leads to a . . .
Confrontation with parliament—1993 In March Parliament impeaches Yeltsin . . . In April he calls a referendum asking if people support him--he gets clear but not overwhelming support) . . . In September he dissolves parliament (illegally) and calls for new elections in December 1993. . . SO, the MPs lock themselves in white house--10 days skirmish--army finally decides to back Yeltsin and launch artillery attack A.
AND . . . A new constitution approved by referendum in Dec. 1993 and elections to Federal Assembly at same time The Constitution of the Russian Federation RatifiedDecember 12, 1993 Preamble We, the multinational people of the Russian Federation, united by a common destiny on our land, asserting human rights and liberties, civil peace and accord, preserving the historic unity of the state, proceeding from the commonly recognized principles of equality and self-determination of the peoples honoring the memory of our ancestors, who have passed on to us love of and respect for our homeland and faith in good and justice, reviving the sovereign statehood of Russia and asserting its immutable democratic foundations, striving to secure the wellbeing and prosperity of Russia and proceeding from a sense of responsibility for our homeland before the present and future generations, and being aware of ourselves as part of the world community, hereby approve the Constitution of the Russian Federation
Inauspicious beginnings . . . .THE WHOLE process is Questionable: First . . . Yeltsin violated existing Constitution by using a referendum so he violated the rule of law in name of higher goals (democracy vs order and reform)--undermines legitimacy of new regime because why wouldn't that happen again Second . . . he called elections for something ( a new parliament) which has not even been approved yet (since the vote for the new system was taking place a the same time) Third . . . There were severe restrictions on press during period right before referendum vote; also allegations of election fraud and misreporting of results And Fourth . . . It does not seem very democratic to lob artillery shells at democratically elected MPs and kill 146 of them
Features of the Constitution • A defining feature is power of president vis a vis Parliament: he can issues decrees w/force of w law, nominate PM (Duma can refuse, but if after pres submits a name 3x and nom still fails, he can call for new elections); dismiss PM, dissolve P and call for new elections, veto, call refs, pardon, C in C, intro leg • What can P do to him? Impeach, override (2/3 in each house), refuse to confirm PM, remover PM
West Baffled by 2 Heads for Russian Government Russian soldiers sat on a tank on Wednesday before a portrait of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin in Tskhinvali, in South Ossetia. Mr. Sarkozy’s report, made in a telephone call to President Bush on Aug. 13, has added to a sense of bewilderment in Washington about how to deal with what is now a two-headed government in Moscow — with Mr. Putin, still the dominant partner, occupying what is technically the subservient role.
The never-ending presidency IT HAS always been a question of how, not if, Vladimir Putin would retain power in Russia when his second, and (according to the constitution) final presidential term runs out in March 2008. This week Mr Putin lifted the veil. At a congress of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, he graciously agreed to head its party list at the general election in December. He added that he may become prime minister if the party wins the election and the president is a man he can work with. United Russia is sure to win and, since Mr Putin will hand-pick the president, he will presumably get along with him. So this charade has only one meaning: Mr Putin is staying on, probably for a very long time.
Several prescribed powers put the president in a superior position vis-à-vis the legislature. The president has broad authority to issue decreesand directives that have the force of law without legislative review, although the constitution notes that they must not contravene that document or other laws. Under certain conditions, the president may dissolve the State Duma, the lower house of parliament (as a whole, now called the Federal Assembly). The president has the prerogatives of scheduling referendums(a power previously reserved to the parliament), submitting draft laws to the State Duma, and promulgating federal laws. The executive-legislative crisis of the fall of 1993 prompted Yeltsin to emplace constitutional obstacles to legislative removal of the president. Under the 1993 constitution, if the president commits "grave crimes" or treason, the State Duma may file impeachment charges with the parliament's upper house, the Federation Council. These charges must be confirmed by a ruling of the Supreme Court that the president's actions constitute a crime and by a ruling of the Constitutional Court that proper procedures in filing charges have been followed. The charges then must be adopted by a special commission of the State Duma and confirmed by at least two-thirds of State Duma deputies. A two-thirds vote of the Federation Council is required for removal of the president. If the Federation Council does not act within three months, the charges are dropped. If the president is removed from office or becomes unable to exercise power because of serious illness, the prime minister is to temporarily assume the president's duties; a presidential election then must be held within three months. The constitution does not provide for a vice president, and there is no specific procedure for determining whether the president is able to carry out his duties.
But . . . Federalism in Russia: The “Vertical of Power” 1.May 2000, Putin issued an executive decree that re-imposed Moscow’s authority over Russia’s 89 regions and republic by breaking the country into 7 new administrative sections, each headed by its own Kremlin representative “super governors” . 2.New laws 2000 also gave the president the power to remove a governor if s/he refuses to harmonize local law with national law or the constitution The State Duma, the lower house of Russia's Parliament, also overturned a Federation Council's veto, voting 363-35 to push through legislation giving President Vladimir Putin the right to sack elected governors and dissolve local legislatures. 3. September 2004: Putin proposes a new law replaces the election of governors, presidents and other regional leaders with presidential appointments. Under Mr. Putin's proposals, which he said required only legislative approval and not constitutional amendments, the governors or leaders of the country's 89 regions would no longer be elected by popular vote but rather by local legislatures - and only after the president's nomination (similar to haw a PM gets appointedsee . 4 New law tries to limit vast array of parties by refusing to register any party unless it has 10,000 members and a significant presence in the 89 regions (100 members per Freedom House)—hurts regional parties 5. eliminates smd for Duma (which helped regional parties and independents) In elections December 2003, those races accounted for all of the independents and liberals now serving in the Duma
Choose federal district: federal district:
Dual Transition: economic and political liberalization It was a tough situation: Soviet Union was a • A.command economy: (a form of socialism in which government decisions ("commands") rather than market mechanisms (such as supply and demand) are the major influences in determining the nation's economic direction • 1. land, factories and all other important economic assets belong to state • 2. Operated through powerful state ministries that oversaw various sectors of the economy (machine building, light industry, grain products etc). • 3. Gosplan (the state planning committee) was responsible for working out 1 and 5 year economic plans to be implemented through the ministries. • 4. Prices centrally controlled--set by state and did not rise when demand high and supplies were limited so no incentive to increase production if in short supply--that was why there where long lines Not responsive to consumer demands
TWO parts to Liberalization • Shock Therapy by • Cutting govt spending • Letting prices rise • Raising taxes Done to control inflation • Privatization done to “denationalize” • Turned to insider privatization “Loans for shares” • Privatization more about wealth _______ than wealth_______ • Insider Privatization creates _________ Capitalism by decree
But throughout the 1990s you saw and emphasis on economic freedoms over political freedoms The West saw Boris Yeltsin as the best guarantee of stable East-West relations. Western leaders backed him against the parliament, barely criticised the Chechen war, and offered Russia a $10bn IMF loan before the 1996 election. Yeltsin in turn entered a strategic partnership with Nato in 1997, despite Russia's deep objections to the alliance's eastward expansion. For Bill Clinton, his friendship with Yeltsin became an embarrassment after Russia suspended co-operation with Nato during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, and reports surfaced that Kremlin favourites had embezzled Western aid.
Boris Yeltsin was becoming an increasingly remote figure as presidential elections approached in 1996, spending long periods away from the Kremlin - on holiday or recovering from illness. But the election campaign brought a transformation, and he toured the country meeting voters with his former enthusiasm. The 65-year-old leader won the second round comfortably thanks to an election pact with the charismatic general, Alexander Lebed, though it later emerged that Yeltsin had suffered a heart attack before the final vote - possibly as a result of the exertions of the campaign
The Oligarchs were scared . . . If Yeltsin is weak, than the _________ might take over
Mr. Yeltsin won re-election in 1996 despite being too ill to show up at his polling station. The inauguration ceremony marked his first public appearance in a month.
Results of econ liberalization (what were two parts?) Shock therapy to control inflation and privitization inflation down, privatization did release state control, but it did not create a middle class--many people sold for the price of a few bottles of vodka, turned into insider privatization, prices did float, stock exchange created, banking system, but massive tax evasion—Oligarchs control ½ of economy (they claim) B.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky arriving at his trial in Moscow with his ever-present entourage of prison guards. Great slide show: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazine/22khodorkovsky-t.html?_r=1
And then in August 1998 . . . It got worse . . .the ruble collapsed and more than 1/2 economy became barter economy, banking system collapse, inflation soar, media collapses, GDP shrinks. Workers aren’t paid for months Moscow street kid: Homelessness, juvenile crime are commonplace
Popular President:Bolstered by a strong economy, that has lifted Russia a out of its 1990’s doldrums, Mr. Putin recently registered a celestial 87% approval rating. CSM Dec 4, 2006 http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1204/p01s04-woeu.html
Crushing the oligarchs Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sent to a Siberian prison
SO here are some examples . . . Will Mr Lebedev get away with it? This type of flamboyance may have been common in the 1990s. But Mr. Putin has made it blisteringly clear that financiers should stay clear of politics. In 2003 Mr. Putin ordered the arrest of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the outspoken owner of the Yukos petroleum company who financed political parties critical of Mr. Putin. At the time, Mr. Khodorkovsky was Russia’s richest man. Five years later, he is still in a Siberian prison, his billions gone. Another chilling example was Mikhail S. Gutseriev, the owner of Russneft, one of Russia’s largest private oil companies. Last year, as Mr. Gutseriev was preparing to sell his company to a Kremlin loyalist, he published a letter of protest in a major business newspaper, saying the government “tightened the screws on the company with unprecedented persecution,” leaving him no option but to sell. A month later, a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of tax evasion and fraud. He fled the country, and the sale is going forward. Oligarchs now understand that they must screen any high-profile act through the Kremlin, said Olga V. Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist who specializes in the Russian elite. Mixed among Mr. Lebedev’s theatrics are some deeply relevant political acts. In 2006, he teamed up with Mr. Gorbachev to buy 49 percent of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Advertisers were abandoning the newspaper, one of the few publications that remain routinely critical of the Kremlin. Months after the purchase, Novaya Gazeta’s crusading reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead in the elevator of her apartment building. Russia, he said, needs independent political institutions and the return of direct election of governors, “simple signals to investors” that the country is set on a modernizing path. He said the economy had rebounded strongly from the market crash, but that the country’s long-term economic policy should be completely rethought
Influx of Siloviki As in the days of the KGB, the secret service has become powerful
How come I classify this as “elite recruitment?” Political clans are entrenched in the Kremlin A number of political clans, rather than political parties, act as distinct and independent political forces in Russia. After the president, Vladimir Putin, removed the last high-profile members of the Yeltsin-era "Family" from power, the siloviki became by far the most prominent political class. According to a study published in 2003, the siloviki—members of the security services, the military and the police—at the time occupied almost 60% of all power positions in Russia, compared with less than 5% during Mikhail Gorbachev's rule. Although the siloviki do not constitute a coherent group, they share a belief in the need for a strong state and a distaste for the wealth and influence acquired by Russia's business oligarchs