Key Questions to Consider:
- How has Russia been run in the past?
- What is the current situation?
- How will this affect future relations between Russia and the rest of the world?
1: How Has Russia Been Run in the Past?
Russia has had a long history of totalitarianism. Even before Russia became Communist in the early 1900s, multiple monarchies had dominated the nation for centuries. After 1991, when the Soviet Union broke up and left behind many smaller nations and Russia, all of these nations imposed democratic reforms that were supposed to allow for greater personal freedoms for their people.
However, Russian elections never became truly free. Since Putin took power in 2000, he has kept a firm grip on all aspects of the Russian government. Even now, Russian citizens vote knowing that Putin will keep the presidency, no matter the result of their vote, due to widespread voter fraud and suppression of votes to opposition parties.
As of now, his opposition has little political power, and even then, they provide no hope for democracy. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, opposition leader of the improperly named “Liberal Democratic Party of Russia,” called elections “worthless” and a “sham concerted by the West.” He also publicly called for Putin to be named “Supreme Leader” instead of “President.”
Actual dissenters, like Alexei Navalny, who has called for greater democratic reforms, are in jail for questionable charges.
2: What is the Current Situation?
Currently, the political system in Russia states that presidents cannot have more than 2 consecutive terms. When this problem first arose, in 2008, Putin appointed a puppet-President, Dmitry Medvedev, to serve as President while he pulled his strings from the background. Then, he regained power in 2012 and extended presidential term limits from 4 to 6 years. His presidency until 2024 is secured, but per this system, he would have to give power to someone else after that. To circumvent this, he signed a new law that reset his previous 2 terms, allowing him to run for 2 more 6-year terms.
Given Russia’s political history of voting fraud, Putin could easily keep his powerful position until 2036.
3: How Will This Affect Future Relations Between Russia and the Rest of the World?
US: America preferred Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, over Putin because Yeltsin was more democratic and more receptive to America’s help in making reforms. In the past 20 years under Putin’s control, Russia has reverted, in many ways, to the restrictive and totalitarian rule that existed before 1991, when Russia was the Soviet Union. Putin’s new law is another example of his belief in totalitarianism and Communism.
Previous US Presidents, including the recent President Trump, have pursued better diplomatic relations with Russia in hopes of turning him towards democracy, but their efforts have failed miserably. Biden is attempting a new approach. Back in February, he said, “the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions—interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens—are over.” That being said, it seems he still hasn’t made any remarks toward Putin’s extension of presidential terms.
Rest of the (democratic) world: At a time when most of the world is under some form of democracy, Putin’s continuation as President and America’s opposition to Putin’s rule makes it difficult for America’s economic and political allies to trade and have diplomacy with Russia. As America’s stance against Russia becomes more firm, it remains left to be seen what course our allies will take, although the likely scenario is for them to follow America’s lead.
- Vladimir Putin has served, either directly or indirectly, as the President of Russia since 2000. By 2024, his fourth term will end, and by the current Russian Constitution’s laws, he cannot run again.
- To make sure he holds onto power, he signed a new law that reset his previous 2 6-year terms, allowing him to stay President until 2036.
- Likely, Putin will remain in power until 2036 due to a lack of strong opposition leaders, widespread voting fraud, and intimidation of voters by the government.
- How Putin’s actions will be received by America and the rest of the democratic world remains to be seen. President Biden has before stated his goal to take more aggressive action toward Russia than his predecessor, but he still hasn’t made any comments about Putin’s recent violation of democracy.