Belarus Merger Could Return Putin to Office

New constitution would give president new lease on power
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2007 1:47 PM CST
RUSSIA-PUTIN   (Getty Images (by Event))
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(Newser) – Vladimir Putin may release a secret weapon this week: a Russian political union with neighboring Belarus that could extend his leadership indefinitely. As the ex-KGB operative’s presidential terms run out, observers look to a merger of nations—including currency, legal system, and armed forces—as an opportunity for a new constitution allowing Putin to be provisional leader of the merged states, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

An independent radio station reported Friday that a union treaty will be signed during Putin's visit to Minsk this week; a Kremlin spokesman called the intel “from the realm of speculative fantasies.” Belarussians, many of whom remember the USSR fondly, would likely approve the move. A referendum on a new constitution could be held as early as March, followed by elections Putin would likely win, experts say.