Putin the Mysterious

by Christopher A. Ferrara

As American Catholics brace for the impact of an Obama presidency, the Moscow Times (November 12, 2008) reports the unsurprising news that Vladimir Putin, who never really stopped being President of Russia, has put in motion the legislative changes that will return him to the presidency in name as well as in fact.

“President” Dmitry Medvedev has “submitted legislation to the State Duma… to extend presidential terms from four to six years” and to “extend term limits for State Duma deputies from four to five years.” The legislation “is expected to sail through the Kremlin-controlled Duma…” That is, the Putin-controlled Duma. All that will then be needed is a resignation by Medvedev to pave the way for two, six-year terms by Putin. As Moscow Times notes: “National media reports have suggested that Medvedev might step down as early as next year, perhaps on the pretext of the need for a new election under a new Constitution, clearing the way for Putin to return.”

Moscow Times further notes that “The halls of government have been filled with speculation over whether the change is an attempt to return Prime Minister Putin to the Kremlin for two, six-year terms or to give Medvedev an extended second term. ‘We don’t understand anything about what is going on,’ said a Cabinet official, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. ‘We don’t know whether the move is intended to smooth the way for [Putin] to come back to the Kremlin or for some other reason. We live in a country where anything is possible. The decision will be made in secret and at the last moment’…”

In other words, in Russia the real decisions are made by Putin and then rubber-stamped by the members of the governmental façade he has erected to hide the nakedness of his neo-Stalinist dictatorship. Indeed, says the Moscow Times, “Medvedev has worked in tangent with Putin since assuming office in May, and political analysts said the two must have agreed on the constitutional changes.” Well, as long as Putin and Medvedev agree — that is, as long as Medvedev receives his orders from Putin — then the deal is done. Everything else, including the “vote” by the Duma, is a mere formality. The entire apparatus of “elected” government in “converted” and “democratic” Russia is an illusion. Doesn’t that strike anyone in the Fatima revisionist camp as strange?

But I suppose that at this point the Fatima revisionists, who have fallen into a long and embarrassed silence, simply don’t want to think about the current state of Russia. They don’t want to ponder such questions as how it is that one man can wield the entire Russian government like a massive rubber stamp, and who or what is behind Putin’s mysterious ability to exercise such unchallenged power. Putin’s dictatorship is almost as mysterious as the outcome of Election 2008 in America, in which a man whose past is shrouded in secrecy, and whose purported birth certificate remains under seal in Hawaii, has somehow become President of the United States.

Our strange days are getting stranger by the hour.