Medvedev, Putin Move to Tighten Grip on Russia

Extending president's term would lock in power for a generation
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2008 7:20 AM CST
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed extending the presidential term to six years from the current four, paving the way for a long-term grip on power.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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(Newser) – Dmitry Medvedev's proposal yesterday to extend the Russian president's term from 4 years to 6 looks like another step in Russia's "alarming and rapid drift towards authoritarianism,"
the Guardian reports. The move came as a Russian newspaper, citing sources in the Kremlin, claimed that Medvedev could resign as early as next year to make way for the return of Vladimir Putin to the top job.

Kremlinologists have speculated that Medvedev might use his term to enact unpopular reforms, then resign and allow Putin to rule unrivaled until 2024. While the move would contravene the Russian constitution, which guarantees a right to vote every 4 years, one sociologist in Moscow said the Kremlin could find some "para-constitutional procedure" to make the change, and later get it ratified by the high court. Another professor was more blunt: "This is quite natural for an authoritarian government."